Title: The Complete Works of Fyodor Dostoevsky

    List of Works by Genre and Title

    List of Works in Chronological Order

    Biography of Fyodor Dostoevsky

      Family Origins

      Early life

      Beginnings of a literary career

      Exile in Siberia

      Post-prison maturation as writer

      Later literary career

      Works and influence

      Dostoevsky and Existentialism

      Major works

      Short stories

  Crime and Punishment

  The Brothers Karamazov

  The Double: A Petersburg Poem

    Chapter 1

    Chapter 2

    Chapter 3

    Chapter 4

    Chapter 6

    Chapter 7

    Chapter 8

    Chapter 9

    Chapter 5

    Chapter 10

    Chapter 11

    Chapter 12

    Chapter 13

  The Gambler


















  The Idiot

    Part 1

















    Part 2













    Part 3











    Part 4













  Notes from the Underground

    Part 1












    Part 2











  Poor Folk


      April 8th

      April 8th

      April 8th

      April 9th

      April 12th

      April 25th



      June 1st




      June 11th

      June 12th.

      June 20th.

      June 21st.

      June 22nd.

      June 25th.

      June 26th.

      June 27th.

      June 28th.


      July 1st.

      July 7th.

      July 8th.

      July 27th.

      July 28th.

      July 28th.

      July 29th.


      August 1st.

      August 2nd.

      August 3rd.

      August 4th.

      August 4th.

      August 5th.

      August 5th.

      August 11th.

      August 13th.

      August 14th.

      August 19th.

      August 21st.


      September 3rd.

      September 5th.

      September 9th.

      September 10th.

      September 11th.

      September 15th.

      September 18th.

      September 19th.

      September 23rd.

      September 23rd.

      September 27th.

      September 27th.

      September 28th.

      September 28th.

      September 29th.

      September 30th.

  The Possessed or The Devils

    Part 1

      Chapter 1: Introductory Some Details of the Biography of That Highly Respected Gentleman Stefan Teofimovitch Verhovensky










      Chapter 2: Prince Harry. Matchmaking.









      Chapter 3: The Sins of Others









      Chapter 4: The Cripple Shatov Was Not Perverse…







      Chapter 5: The Subtle Serpent Varvara Petrovna Rang the Bell and Threw Herself Into an Easy Chair by the Window









    Part 2

      Chapter 1: Night Eight Days Had Passed

      Chapter 2









      Chapter 3: The Duel the Next Day





      Chapter 4: All in Expectation




      Chapter 5: On the Eve Op the Fete




      Chapter 6: Pyotr Stepanovitch is Busy







      Chapter 7: A Meeting



      Chapter 8: Ivan the Tsarevitch

      Chapter 9: A Raid at Stefan Trofimovitch’s

      Chapter 10: Filibusters. A Fatal Morning.




    Part 3

      Chapter 1: The Fete—first Part






      Chapter 2: The End of the Fete He Would Not See Me





      Chapter 3: A Romance Ended




      Chapter 4: The Last Resolution That Morning





      Chapter 5: A Wanderer






      Chapter 6: A Busy Night




      Chapter 7: Stepan Trofimovitch’s Last Wandering




      Chapter 8: Conclusion

  The Raw Youth

    Part 1

      Chapter 1









      Chapter 2





      Chapter 3







      Chapter 4





      Chapter 5





      Chapter 6





      Chapter 7





      Chapter 8




      Chapter 9






      Chapter 10






    Part 2

      Chapter 1





      Chapter 2




      Chapter 3





      Chapter 4



      Chapter 5




      Chapter 6





      Chapter 7




      Chapter 8







      Chapter 9





    Part 3

      Chapter 1




      Chapter 2






      Chapter 3





      Chapter 4





      Chapter 5




      Chapter 6




      Chapter 7




      Chapter 8



      Chapter 9






      Chapter 10





      Chapter 11





      Chapter 12






      Chapter 13 - Conclusion




  The Christmas Tree and The Wedding

  The Crocodile

      Chapter 1

      Chapter 2

      Chapter 3

      Chapter 4






List of Works by Genre and Title


  • The Brothers Karamazov

  • Crime and Punishment

  • The Double: A Petersburg Poem

  • The Gambler

  • The Idiot

  • Notes from the Underground

  • Poor Folk

  • The Possessed or The Devils

  • The Raw Youth or The Adolescent

Short stories:

  • The Christmas Tree and the Wedding

  • The Crocodile

  • The Dream of a Ridiculous Man

List of Works in Chronological Order

  • Poor Folk (1846)

  • The Double: A Petersburg Poem (1846)

  • The Christmas Tree and the Wedding (1848)

  • Notes from Underground (1864)

  • The Crocodile (1865)

  • Crime and Punishment (1866)

  • The Gambler (1867)

  • The Idiot (1868)

  • The Possessed or Demons (1872)

  • The Raw Youth or The Adolescent (1875)

  • The Dream of a Ridiculous Man (1877)

  • The Brothers Karamazov (1880)

Biography of Fyodor Dostoevsky

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky, sometimes transliterated Dostoyevsky, Dostoievsky, Dostojevskij or Dostoevski (November 11 [O.S. October 30] 1821 - February 9 [O.S. January 28] 1881) was a Russian novelist and writer of fiction whose works, including Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov, have had a profound and lasting effect on intellectual thought and world literature.

Dostoevsky’s literary output explores human psychology in the troubled political, social and spiritual context of 19th-century Russian society. Considered by many as a founder or precursor of 20th century existentialism, his Notes from Underground (1864), written in the embittered voice of the anonymous “underground man”, was named by Walter Kaufmann as the “best overture for existentialism ever written.”

Family Origins

Dostoevsky was Russian on his mother’s side. His paternal ancestors were Lithuanian, from a place called Dostoyeve, natives of the government of Minsk, not far from Pinsk. Dostoevsky’s paternal ancestors were Polonized nobles (szlachta) and went to war bearing Polish Radwan Coat of Arms. Dostoevsky (Polish “Dostojewski”) Radwan armorial bearings were drawn for the Dostoevsky Museum in Moscow. The family eventually passed into Ukrainia.

Early life

Dostoevsky was the second of seven children born to Mikhail and Maria Dostoevsky. Dostoevsky’s father was a retired military surgeon and a violent alcoholic, who served as a doctor at the Mariinsky Hospital for the Poor in Moscow. The hospital was situated in one of the worst areas in Moscow. Local landmarks included a cemetery for criminals, a lunatic asylum, and an orphanage for abandoned infants. This urban landscape made a lasting impression on the young Dostoevsky, whose interest in and compassion for the poor, oppressed, and tormented was apparent. Though his parents forbade it, Dostoevsky liked to wander out to the hospital garden, where the suffering patients sat to catch a glimpse of sun. The young Dostoevsky loved to spend time with these patients and hear their stories.

There are many stories of Dostoevsky’s father’s despotic treatment of his children. After returning home from work, he would take a nap while his children, ordered to keep absolutely silent, stood by their slumbering father in shifts and swatted at any flies that came near his head. However, it is the opinion of Joseph Frank, a biographer of Dostoevsky, that the father figure in The Brothers Karamazov is not based on Dostoevsky’s own father. Letters and personal accounts demonstrate that they had a fairly loving relationship.

Shortly after his mother died of tuberculosis in 1837, Dostoevsky and his brother were sent to the Military Engineering Academy at St. Petersburg. Fyodor’s father died in 1839. Though it has never been proven, it is believed by some that he was murdered by his own serfs. According to one account, they became enraged during one of his drunken fits of violence, restrained him, and poured vodka into his mouth until he drowned. Another story holds that Mikhail died of natural causes, and a neighboring landowner invented the story of his murder so that he might buy the estate inexpensively. Some have argued that his father’s personality had influenced the character of Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov, the “wicked and sentimental buffoon”, father of the main characters in his 1880 novel The Brothers Karamazov, but such claims fail to withstand the scrutiny of many critics.

Dostoevsky was an epileptic and his first seizure occurred when he was 9 years old. Epileptic seizures recurred sporadically throughout his life, and Dostoevsky’s experiences are thought to have formed the basis for his description of Prince Myshkin’s epilepsy in his novel The Idiot and that of Smerdyakov in The Brothers Karamazov, among others.

At the St. Petersburg Academy of Military Engineering, Dostoevsky was taught mathematics, a subject he despised. However, he also studied literature by Shakespeare, Pascal, Victor Hugo and E.T.A. Hoffmann. Though he focused on areas different from mathematics, he did well on the exams and received a commission in 1841. That year, he is known to have written two romantic plays, influenced by the German Romantic poet/playwright Friedrich Schiller: Mary Stuart and Boris Godunov. The plays have not been preserved. Dostoevsky described himself as a “dreamer” when he was a young man, and at that time revered Schiller. However, in the years during which he yielded his great masterpieces, his opinions changed and he sometimes poked fun at Schiller.

Beginnings of a literary career

Dostoevsky was made a lieutenant in 1842, and left the Engineering Academy the following year. He completed a translation into Russian of Balzac’s novel Eugénie Grandet in 1843, but it brought him little or no attention. Dostoevsky started to write his own fiction in late 1844 after leaving the army. In 1845, his first work, the epistolary short novel, Poor Folk, published in the periodical The Contemporary (Sovremennik), was met with great acclaim. As legend has it, the editor of the magazine, poet Nikolai Nekrasov, walked into the office of liberal critic Vissarion Belinsky and announced, “a new Gogol has arisen!” Belinsky, his followers and many others agreed and after the novel was fully published in book form at the beginning of the next year, Dostoevsky became a literary celebrity at the age of 24.

In 1846, Belinsky and many others reacted negatively to his novella, The Double, a psychological study of a bureaucrat whose alter ego overtakes his life. Dostoevsky’s fame began to cool. Much of his work after Poor Folk met with mixed reviews and it seemed that Belinsky’s prediction that Dostoevsky would be one of the greatest writers of Russia was mistaken.

Exile in Siberia

Dostoevsky was arrested and imprisoned on April 23, 1849 for being a part of the liberal intellectual group, the Petrashevsky Circle. Czar Nicholas I after seeing the Revolutions of 1848 in Europe was harsh on any sort of underground organization which he felt could put autocracy into jeopardy. On November 16 that year Dostoevsky, along with the other members of the Petrashevsky Circle, was sentenced to death. After a mock execution, in which he and other members of the group stood outside in freezing weather waiting to be shot by a firing squad, Dostoevsky’s sentence was commuted to four years of exile with hard labor at a katorga prison camp in Omsk, Siberia. Dostoevsky described later to his brother the sufferings he went through as the years in which he was “shut up in a coffin.” Describing the dilapidated barracks which, as he put in his own words, “should have been torn down years ago”, he wrote:

“In summer, intolerable closeness; in winter, unendurable cold. All the floors were rotten. Filth on the floors an inch thick; one could slip and fall..We were packed like herrings in a barrel..There was no room to turn around. From dusk to dawn it was impossible not to behave like pigs..Fleas, lice, and black beetles by the bushel..”

He was released from prison in 1854, and was required to serve in the Siberian Regiment. Dostoevsky spent the following five years as a private (and later lieutenant) in the Regiment’s Seventh Line Battalion, stationed at the fortress of Semipalatinsk, now in Kazakhstan. While there, he began a relationship with Maria Dmitrievna Isaeva, the wife of an acquaintance in Siberia. They married in February 1857, after her husband’s death.

Post-prison maturation as writer

Dostoevsky’s experiences in prison and the army resulted in major changes in his political and religious convictions. Firstly, his ordeal somehow caused him to become disillusioned with ‘Western’ ideas; he repudiated the contemporary Western European philosophical movements, and to instead pay greater tribute to traditional, rural-based, rustic Russian ‘values’. But even more significantly, he had what his biographer Joseph Frank describes as a conversion experience in prison, which greatly strengthened his Christian, and specifically Orthodox, faith (Dostoevsky would later depict his conversion experience in the short story, The Peasant Marey (1876)).

Dostoevsky focused his newfound condemnation of Western European philosophy especially on the Nihilist and Socialist movements; and much of his post-prison work — particularly the novel, The Possessed and the essays, The Diary of a Writer — contains both criticism of socialist and nihilist ideas, as well as thinly-veiled parodies of contemporary Western-influenced Russian intellectuals (Timofey Granovsky), revolutionaries (Sergey Nechayev), and even fellow novelists (Ivan Turgenev). In social circles, Dostoevsky allied himself with well-known conservatives, such as the statesman Konstantin Pobedonostsev. His post-prison essays praised the tenets of the Pochvennichestvo movement, a late-19th Russian nativist ideology closely aligned with Slavophilism.

In short, Dostoevsky’s post-prison fiction abandoned the European-style domestic melodramas and quaint character studies of his youthful work in favor of dark, complex story-lines and situations, played-out by brooding, tortured characters — often styled partly on Dostoevsky himself — who agonized over existential themes of spiritual torment, religious awakening, and the psychological confusion caused by the conflict between traditional Russian culture and the influx of modern, Western philosophy. Dostoevsky’s novels focused on the idea that utopias and positivist ideas being utilitarian were unrealistic and unobtainable.

Later literary career

In December 1859, Dostoevsky returned to St. Petersburg, where he ran a series of unsuccessful literary journals, Vremya (Time) and Epokha (Epoch), with his older brother Mikhail. The latter had to be shut down as a consequence of its coverage of the Polish Uprising of 1863. That year Dostoevsky traveled to Europe and frequented the gambling casinos. There he met Apollinaria Suslova, the model for Dostoevsky’s “proud women,” such as Katerina Ivanovna, in both Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov.

Dostoevsky was devastated by his wife’s death in 1864, which was followed shortly thereafter by his brother’s death. He was financially crippled by business debts and the need to provide for his wife’s son from her earlier marriage and his brother’s widow and children. Dostoevsky sank into a deep depression, frequenting gambling parlors and accumulating massive losses at the tables.

Dostoevsky suffered from an acute gambling compulsion as well as from its consequences. By one account Crime and Punishment, possibly his best known novel, was completed in a mad hurry because Dostoevsky was in urgent need of an advance from his publisher. He had been left practically penniless after a gambling spree. Dostoevsky wrote The Gambler simultaneously in order to satisfy an agreement with his publisher Stellovsky who, if he did not receive a new work, would have claimed the copyrights to all of Dostoevsky’s writings.

Motivated by the dual wish to escape his creditors at home and to visit the casinos abroad, Dostoevsky traveled to Western Europe. There, he attempted to rekindle a love affair with Suslova, but she refused his marriage proposal. Dostoevsky was heartbroken, but soon met Anna Grigorevna Snitkina, a twenty-year-old stenographer. Shortly before marrying her in 1867, he dictated The Gambler to her. This period resulted in the writing of what are generally considered to be his greatest books. From 1873 to 1881 he published the Writer’s Diary, a monthly journal full of short stories, sketches, and articles on current events. The journal was an enormous success.

Dostoevsky is also known to have influenced and been influenced by the philosopher Vladimir Sergeyevich Solovyov. Solovyov is noted as the inspiration for the character Alyosha Karamazov.

In 1877, Dostoevsky gave the keynote eulogy at the funeral of his friend, the poet Nekrasov, to much controversy. On June 8, 1880, shortly before he died, he gave his famous Pushkin speech at the unveiling of the Pushkin monument in Moscow . From that event on, Dostoevsky was acclaimed all over Russia as one of her greatest writers and hailed as a prophet, almost a mystic.

In his later years, Fyodor Dostoevsky lived for a long time at the resort of Staraya Russa in northwestern Russia, which was closer to St. Petersburg and less expensive than German resorts. He died on February 9 (January 28 O.S.), 1881 of a lung hemorrhage associated with emphysema and an epileptic seizure. He was interred in Tikhvin Cemetery at the Alexander Nevsky Monastery, St Petersburg, Russia. Forty thousand mourners attended his funeral. His tombstone reads “Verily, Verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” from John 12:24, which is also the epigraph of his final novel, The Brothers Karamazov.

Works and influence

Dostoevsky’s influence has been acclaimed by a wide variety of writers, including Marcel Proust, William Faulkner, Charles Bukowski, Albert Camus, Friedrich Nietzsche, Henry Miller, Yukio Mishima, Cormac McCarthy, Gabriel García Márquez, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, Orhan Pamuk and Joseph Heller. American novelist Ernest Hemingway cited Dostoevsky as a major influence on his work in his autobiographical novella A Moveable Feast.

In a book of interviews with Arthur Power (Conversations with James Joyce), James Joyce praised Dostoevsky’s influence:

..he is the man more than any other who has created modern prose, and intensified it to its present-day pitch. It was his explosive power which shattered the Victorian novel with its simpering maidens and ordered commonplaces; books which were without imagination or violence.

In her essay The Russian Point of View, Virginia Woolf stated that,

The novels of Dostoevsky are seething whirlpools, gyrating sandstorms, waterspouts which hiss and boil and suck us in. They are composed purely and wholly of the stuff of the soul. Against our wills we are drawn in, whirled round, blinded, suffocated, and at the same time filled with a giddy rapture. Out of Shakespeare there is no more exciting reading.

Though a writer of symbolic tales (and in this respect sometimes compared to Herman Melville), Dostoevsky displayed a nuanced understanding of human psychology in his major works. He created an opus of vitality and almost hypnotic power, characterized by feverishly dramatized scenes where his characters are, frequently in scandalous and explosive atmosphere, passionately engaged in Socratic dialogues à la Russe; the quest for God, the problem of Evil and suffering of the innocents haunt the majority of his novels.

His characters fall into a few distinct categories: humble and self-effacing Christians (Prince Myshkin, Sonya Marmeladova, Alyosha Karamazov, Starets Zosima), self-destructive nihilists (Svidrigailov, Smerdyakov, Stavrogin, the underground man), cynical debauchees (Fyodor Karamazov), and rebellious intellectuals (Raskolnikov, Ivan Karamazov); also, his characters are driven by ideas rather than by ordinary biological or social imperatives. In comparison with Tolstoy, whose characters are realistic, the characters of Dostoevsky are usually more symbolic of the ideas they represent, thus Dostoevsky is often cited as one of the forerunners of Literary Symbolism in specific Russian Symbolism.

Dostoevsky’s novels are compressed in time (many cover only a few days) and this enables the author to get rid of one of the dominant traits of realist prose, the corrosion of human life in the process of the time flux - his characters primarily embody spiritual values, and these are, by definition, timeless. Other obsessive themes include suicide, wounded pride, collapsed family values, spiritual regeneration through suffering (the most important motif), rejection of the West and affirmation of Russian Orthodoxy and Tsarism. Literary scholars such as Bakhtin have characterized his work as ‘polyphonic’: unlike other novelists, Dostoevsky does not appear to aim for a ‘single vision’, and beyond simply describing situations from various angles, Dostoevsky engendered fully dramatic novels of ideas where conflicting views and characters are left to develop unevenly into unbearable crescendo.

Dostoevsky and the other giant of late 19th century Russian literature, Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, never met in person, even though each praised, criticized and influenced each other (Dostoevsky remarked of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina that it was a “flawless work of art”; Henri Troyat reports that Tolstoy once remarked of Crime and Punishment that, “Once you read the first few chapters you know pretty much how the novel will end up”). There was, however, a meeting arranged, but there was a confusion about where the meeting place was and they never rescheduled. Tolstoy reportedly burst into tears when he learnt of Dostoevsky’s death. A copy of The Brothers Karamazov was found on the nightstand next to Tolstoy’s deathbed at the Astapovo railway station. Since their time, the two are considered by the critics and public as two of the greatest novelists produced by their homeland.

Dostoevsky has also been noted as having expressed anti-Semitic remarks. In the recent biography by Joseph Frank, The Mantle of the Prophet, Frank spent much time on A Writer’s Diary - a regular column which Dostoevsky wrote in the periodical The Citizen from 1873 to the year before his death in 1881. Frank notes that the Diary is “filled with politics, literary criticism, and pan-Slav diatribes about the virtues of the Russian Empire, [and] represents a major challenge to the Dostoevsky fan, not least on account of its frequent expressions of anti-Semitism.” Frank, in his foreword that he wrote for the book Dostoevsky and the Jews, attempts to place Dostoevsky as a product of his time. Frank notes that Dostoevsky did make anti-semitic remarks, but that Dostoevsky’s writing and stance by and large was one where Dostoevsky held a great deal of guilt for his comments and positions that were anti-semitic. Dostoevsky was in the vein of many literary giants who also made anti-Semitic remarks such as Shakespeare to T. S. Eliot, from Pushkin to Pasternak. Much of the points made that depict Dostoevsky’s views as an anti-Semite, do so by denying that Dostoevsky expressed support for the equal rights of and for the Russian Jewish population. A position that was not widely supported at the time, in his homeland. This criticism of Dostoevsky also appears to deny his sincerity in the statements that Dostoevsky made, that he was for equal rights for the Russian Jewish populace, and the Serfs of his own country. Since neither group at the point in history had equal rights. The criticism maintains that Dostoevsky was insincere when he stated that he did not hate Jewish people and was not an Anti-Semite. This position maintained without taking into consideration Dostoevsky’s expressed desire to peacefully reconcile Jews and Christians into a single universal brotherhood of all mankind.

Dostoevsky and Existentialism

With the publication of Crime and Punishment in 1866, Fyodor Dostoevsky became one of Russia’s most prominent authors in the nineteenth century. Dostoevsky has also been called one of the founding fathers of the philosophical movement known as existentialism. In particular, his Notes from Underground, first published in 1864, has been depicted as a founding work of existentialism. For Dostoevsky, war is the rebellion of the people against the idea that reason guides everything. And thus, reason is the ultimate principle of guidance for neither history nor mankind. Having been exiled to the city of Omsk (Siberia) in 1849, many of Dostoevsky’s works entail notions of suffering and despair.

Nietzsche referred to Dostoevsky as “the only psychologist from whom I have something to learn: he belongs to the happiest windfalls of my life, happier even than the discovery of Stendhal.” He said that Notes from the Underground “cried truth from the blood.” According to Mihajlo Mihajlov’s “The great catalyzer: Nietzsche and Russian neo-Idealism”, Nietzsche constantly refers to Dostoevsky in his notes and drafts through out the winter of 1886-1887. Nietzsche also wrote abstracts of several of Dostoevsky’s works.

Freud wrote an article entitled Dostoevsky and Parricide that asserts that the greatest works in world literature are all about parricide (though he is critical of Dostoevsky’s work overall, the inclusion of The Brothers Karamazov in a set of the three greatest works of literature is remarkable).

Major works

  • Poor Folk (1846)

  • The Double: A Petersburg Poem (1846)

  • Netochka Nezvanova (1849)

  • The Village of Stepanchikovo (1859)

  • The Insulted and Humiliated (1861)

  • The House of the Dead (1862)

  • Notes from Underground (1864)

  • Crime and Punishment (1866)

  • The Gambler (1867)

  • The Idiot (1869)

  • The Possessed (1872)

  • The Raw Youth (1875)

  • The Brothers Karamazov (1880)

  • A Writer’s Diary (1873-1881)

Short stories

  • Mr Prokharchin (1846)

  • Polzunkov (1847)

  • The Landlady (1847)

  • White Nights (1848)

  • A Christmas Tree and a Wedding (1848)

  • A Weak Heart (1848)

  • An Honest Thief (1848)

  • A Nasty Story (1862)

  • Winter Notes on Summer Impressions (1863)

  • The Crocodile (1865)

  • The Eternal Husband (1870)

  • The Peasant Marey (1876)

  • A Gentle Creature sometimes translated as The Meek Girl (1876)

  • The Dream of a Ridiculous Man (1877)

Crime and Punishment

See here.

The Brothers Karamazov

See here.

The Double: A Petersburg Poem

Translated by Constance Garnett

Chapter 1

It was a little before eight o’clock in the morning when Yakov Petrovitch Golyadkin, a titular councillor, woke up from a long sleep. He yawned, stretched, and at last opened his eyes completely. For two minutes, however, he lay in his bed without moving, as though he were not yet quite certain whether he were awake or still asleep, whether all that was going on around him were real and actual, or the continuation of his confused dreams. Very soon, however, Mr. Golyadkin’s senses began more clearly and more distinctly to receive their habitual and everyday impressions. The dirty green, smoke-begrimed, dusty walls of his little room, with the mahogany chest of drawers and chairs, the table painted red, the sofa covered with American leather of a reddish colour with little green flowers on it, and the clothes taken off in haste overnight and flung in a crumpled heap on the sofa, looked at him familiarly. At last the damp autumn day, muggy and dirty, peeped into the room through the dingy window pane with such a hostile, sour grimace that Mr. Golyadkin could not possibly doubt that he was not in the land of Nod, but in the city of Petersburg, in his own flat on the fourth storey of a huge block of buildings in Shestilavotchny Street. When he had made this important discovery Mr. Golyadkin nervously closed his eyes, as though regretting his dream and wanting to go back to it for a moment. But a minute later he leapt out of bed at one bound, probably all at once, grasping the idea about which his scattered and wandering thoughts had been revolving. From his bed he ran straight to a little round looking-glass that stood on his chest of drawers. Though the sleepy, short-sighted countenance and rather bald head reflected in the looking-glass were of such an insignificant type that at first sight they would certainly not have attracted particular attention in any one, yet the owner of the countenance was satisfied with all that he saw in the looking-glass. “What a thing it would be,” said Mr. Golyadkin in an undertone, “what a thing it would be if I were not up to the mark today, if something were amiss, if some intrusive pimple had made its appearance, or anything else unpleasant had happened; so far, however, there’s nothing wrong, so far everything’s all right.”

Greatly relieved that everything was all right, Mr Golyadkin put the looking-glass back in its place and, although he had nothing on his feet and was still in the attire in which he was accustomed to go to bed, he ran to the little window and with great interest began looking for something in the courtyard, upon which the windows of his flat looked out. Apparently what he was looking for in the yard quite satisfied him too; his face beamed with a self-satisfied smile. Then, after first peeping, however, behind the partition into his valet Petrushka’s little room and making sure that Petrushka was not there, he went on tiptoe to the table, opened the drawer in it and, fumbling in the furthest corner of it, he took from under old yellow papers and all sorts of rubbish a shabby green pocket-book, opened it cautiously, and with care and relish peeped into the furthest and most hidden fold of it. Probably the roll of green, grey, blue, red and particoloured notes looked at Golyadkin, too, with approval: with a radiant face he laid the open pocket-book before him and rubber his hands vigorously in token of the greatest satisfaction. Finally, he took it out - his comforting roll of notes - and, for the hundredth time since the previous day, counted them over, carefully smoothing out every note between his forefinger and his thumb.

“Seven hundred and fifty roubles in notes,” he concluded at last, in a half-whisper. “Seven hundred and fifty roubles, a noteworthy sum! It’s an agreeable sum,” he went on, in a voice weak and trembling with gratification, as he pinched the roll with his fingers and smiled significantly; “it’s a very agreeable sum! A sum agreeable to any one! I should like to see the man to whom that would be a trivial sum! There’s no knowing what a man might not do with a sum like that… . What’s the meaning of it, though?” thought Mr. Golyadkin; “where’s Petrushka?” And still in the same attire he peeped behind the partition again. Again there was no sign of Petrushka; and the samovar standing on the floor was beside itself, fuming and raging in solitude, threatening every minute to boil over, hissing and lisping in its mysterious language, to Mr. Golyadkin something like, “Take me, good people, I’m boiling and perfectly ready.”

“Damn the fellow,” thought Mr. Golyadkin. “That lazy brute might really drive a man out of all patience; where’s he dawdling now?”

In just indignation he went out into the hall, which consisted of a little corridor at the end of which was a door into the entry, and saw his servant surrounded by a good-sized group of lackeys of all sorts, a mixed rabble from outside as well as from the flats of the house. Petrushka was telling something, the others were listening. Apparently the subject of the conversation, or the conversation itself, did not please Mr. Golyadkin. He promptly called Petrushka and returned to his room, displeased and even upset. “That beast would sell a man for a halfpenny, and his master before any one,” he thought to himself: “and he has sold me, he certainly has. I bet he has sold me for a farthing. Well?”

“They’ve brought the livery, sir.”

“Put it on, and come here.”

When he had put on his livery, Petrushka, with a stupid smile on his face, went in to his master. His costume was incredibly strange. He had on a much-worn green livery, with frayed gold braid on it, apparently made for a man a yard taller than Petrushka. In his hand he had a hat trimmed with the same gold braid and with a feather in it, and at his hip hung a footman’s sword in a leather sheath. Finally, to complete the picture, Petrushka, who always liked to be in neglig‚, was barefooted. Mr. Golyadkin looked at Petrushka from all sides and was apparently satisfied. The livery had evidently been hired for some solemn occasion. It might be observed, too, that during his master’s inspection Petrushka watched him with strange expectance and with marked curiosity followed every movement he made, which extremely embarrassed Mr. Golyadkin.

“Well, and how about the carriage?”

“The carriage is here too.”

“For the whole day?”

“For the whole day. Twenty five roubles.”

“And have the boots been sent?”


“Dolt! can’t even say, ‘yes, sir.’ Bring them here.”

Expressing his satisfaction that the boots fitted, Mr. Golyadkin asked for his tea, and for water to wash and shave. He shaved with great care and washed as scrupulously, hurriedly sipped his tea and proceeded to the principal final process of attiring himself: he put on an almost new pair of trousers; then a shirtfront with brass studs, and a very bright and agreeably flowered waistcoat; about his neck he tied a gay, particoloured cravat, and finally drew on his coat, which was also newish and carefully brushed. As he dressed, he more than once looked lovingly at his boots, lifted up first one leg and then the other, admired their shape, kept muttering something to himself, and from time to time made expressive grimaces. Mr. Golyadkin was, however, extremely absent-minded that morning, for he scarcely noticed the little smiles and grimaces made at his expanse by Petrushka, who was helping him dress. At last, having arranged everything properly and having finished dressing, Mr. Golyadkin put his pocket-book in his pocket, took a final admiring look at Petrushka, who had put on his boots and was therefore also quite ready, and, noticing that everything was done and that there was nothing left to wait for, he ran hurriedly and fussily out on to the stairs, with a slight throbbing at his heart. the light-blue hired carriage with a crest on it rolled noisily up to the steps. Petrushka, winking to the driver and some of the gaping crowd, helped his master into the carriage; and hardly able to suppress an idiotic laugh, shouted in an unnatural voice: “Off!” jumped up on the footboard, and the whole turnout, clattering and rumbling noisily, rolled into the Nevsky Prospect. As soon as the light-blue carriage dashed out of the gate, Mr. Golyadkin rubbed his hands convulsively and went off into a slow, noiseless chuckle, like a jubilant man who has succeeded in bringing off a splendid performance and is as pleased as Punch with the performance himself. Immediately after his access of gaiety, however, laughter was replaced by a strange and anxious expression on the face of Mr. Golyadkin. Though the weather was damp and muggy, he let down both windows of the carriage and began carefully scrutinizing the passers-by to left and to right, at once assuming a decorous and sedate air when he thought any one was looking at him. At the turning from Liteyny Street into the Nevsky Prospect he was startled by a most unpleasant sensation and, frowning like some poor wretch whose corn has been accidentally trodden on, he huddled with almost panic-stricken hast into the darkest corner of his carriage.

He had seen two of his colleagues, two young clerks serving in the same government department. The young clerks were also, it seemed to Mr. Golyadkin, extremely amazed at meeting their colleague in such a way; one of them, in fact, pointed him out to the other. Mr. Golyadkin even fancied that the other had actually called his name, which, of course, was very unseemly in the street. Our hero concealed himself and did not respond. “The silly youngsters!” he began reflecting to himself. “Why, what is there strange in it? A man in a carriage, a man needs to be in a carriage, and so he hires a carriage. They’re simply noodles! I know them - simply silly youngsters, who still need thrashing! They want to be paid a salary for playing pitch-farthing and dawdling about, that’s all they’re fit for. It’d let them all know, if only …”

Mr. Golyadkin broke off suddenly, petrified. A smart pair of Kazan horses, very familiar to Mr. Golyadkin, in a fashionable droshky, drove rapidly by on the right side of his carriage. The gentleman sitting in the droshky, happening to catch a glimpse of Mr. Golyadkin, who was rather incautiously poking his head out of the carriage window, also appeared to be extremely astonished at the unexpected meeting and, bending out as far as he could, looked with the greatest of curiosity and interest into the corner of the carriage in which our hero made haste to conceal himself. The gentleman in the droshky was Andrey Filippovitch, the head of the office in which Mr. Golyadkin served in the capacity of assistant to the chief clerk. Mr. Golyadkin, seeing that Andrey Filippovitch recognized him, that he was looking at him open-eyed and that it was impossible to hide, blushed up to her ears.

“Bow or not? Call back or not? Recognize him or not?” our hero wondered in indescribable anguish, “or pretend that I am not myself, but somebody else strikingly like me, and look as though nothing were the matter. Simply not I, not I - and that’s all,” said Mr. Golyadkin, taking off his hat to Andrey Filippovitch and keeping his eyes fixed upon him. “I’m … I’m all right,” he whispered with an effort; “I’m … quite all right. It’s not I, it’s not I - and that is the fact of the matter.”

Soon, however, the droshky passed the carriage, and the magnetism of his chief’s eyes was at an end. Yet he went on blushing, smiling and muttering something to himself…

“I was a fool not to call back,” he thought at last. “I ought to have taken a bolder line and behaved with gentlemanly openness. I ought to have said ‘This is how it is, Andrey Filippovitch, I’m asked to the dinner too,’ and that’s all it is!”

Then, suddenly recalling how taken aback he had been, our hero flushed as hot as fire, frowned, and cast a terrible defiant glance at the front corner of the carriage, a glance calculated to reduce all his foes to ashes. At last, he was suddenly inspired to pull the cord attached to the driver’s elbow, and stopped the carriage, telling him to drive back to Liteyny Street. The fact was, it was urgently necessary for Mr. Golyadkin, probably for the sake of his own peace of mind, to say something very interesting to his doctor, Krestyan Ivanovitch. And, though he had made Krestyan Ivanovitch’s acquaintance quite recently, having, indeed, only paid him a single visit, and that one the previous week, to consult him about some symptom. but a doctor, as they say, is like a priest, and it would be stupid for him to keep out of sight, and, indeed, it was his duty to know his patients. “Will it be all right, though,” our hero went on, getting out of the carriage at the door of a five-storey house in Liteyny Street, at which he had told the driver to stop the carriage: “Will it be all right? Will it be proper? Will it be appropriate? After all, though,” he went on, thinking as he mounted the stairs out of breath and trying to suppress that beating of his heart, which had the habit of beating on all other people’s staircases: “After all, it’s on my own business and there’s nothing reprehensible in it… . It would be stupid to keep out of sight. Why, of course, I shall behave as though I were quite all right, and have simply looked in as I passed… . He will see, that it’s all just as it should be.”

Reasoning like this, Mr. Golyadkin mounted to the second storey and stopped before flat number five, on which there was a handsome brass door-plate with the inscription -


Stopping at the door, our hero made haste to assume an air of propriety, ease, and even of a certain affability, and prepared to pull the bell. As he was about to do so he promptly and rather appropriately reflected that it might be better to come to-morrow, and that it was not very pressing for the moment. But as he suddenly heard footsteps on the stairs, he immediately changed his mind again and at once rang Krestyan Ivanovitch’s bell - with an air, moreover, of great determination.

Chapter 2

The doctor of medicine and surgery, Krestyan Ivanovitch Rutenspitz, a very hale though elderly man, with thick eyebrows and whiskers that were beginning to turn grey, eyes with an expressive gleam in them that looked capable of routing every disease, and, lastly, with orders of some distinction on his breast, was sitting in his consulting-room that morning in his comfortable armchair. He was drinking coffee, which his wife had brought him with her own hand, smoking a cigar and from time to time writing prescriptions for his patients. After prescribing a draught for an old man who was suffering from haemorrhoids and seeing the aged patient out by the side door, Krestyan Ivanovitch sat down to await the next visitor.

Mr. Golyadkin walked in.

Apparently Krestyan Ivanovitch did not in the least expect nor desire to see Mr. Golyadkin, for he was suddenly taken aback for a moment, and his countenance unconsciously assumed a strange and, one may almost say, a displeased expression. As Mr. Golyadkin almost always turned up inappropriately and was thrown into confusion whenever he approached any one about his own little affairs, on this occasion, too, he was desperately embarrassed. Having neglected to get ready his first sentence, which was invariably a stumbling-block for him on such occasions, he muttered something - apparently an apology - and, not knowing what to do next, took a chair and sat down, but, realizing that he had sat down without being asked to do so, he was immediately conscious of his lapse, and made haste to efface his offence against etiquette and good breeding by promptly getting up again from the seat he had taken uninvited. Then, on second thoughts, dimly perceiving that he had committed two stupid blunders at once, he immediately decided to commit a third - that is, tried to right himself, muttered something, smiled, blushed, was overcome with embarrassment, sank into expressive silence, and finally sat down for good and did not get up again. Only, to protect himself from all contingencies, he looked at the doctor with that defiant glare which had an extraordinary power of figuratively crushing Mr. Golyadkin’s enemies and reducing them to ashes. This glance, moreover, expressed to the full Mr. Golyadkin’s independence - that is, to speak plainly, the fat that Mr. Golyadkin was “all right,” that he was “quite himself, like everybody else,” and that there was “nothing wrong in his upper storey.” Krestyan Ivanovitch coughed, cleared his throat, apparently in token of approval and assent to all this, and bent an inquisitorial interrogative gaze upon his visitor.

“I have come to trouble you a second time, Krestyan Ivanovitch,” began Mr. Golyadkin, with a smile, “and now I venture to ask your indulgence a second time… .” He was obviously at a loss for words.

“H’m … Yes!” pronounced Krestyan Ivanovitch, puffing out a spiral of smoke and putting down his cigar on the table, “but you must follow the treatment prescribed to you; I explained to you that what would be beneficial to your health is a change of habits… . Entertainment, for instance, and, well, friends - you should visit your acquaintances, and not be hostile to the bottle; and likewise keep cheerful company.”

Mr. Golyadkin, still smiling, hastened to observe that he thought he was like every one else, that he lived by himself, that he had entertainments like every one else … that, of course, he might go to the theatre, for he had the means like every one else, that he spent the day at the office and the evenings at home, that he was quite all right; he even observed, in passing, that he was, so far as he could see, as good as any one, that he lived at home, and finally, that he had Petrushka. At this point Mr. Golyadkin hesitated.

“H’m! no, that is not the order of proceeding that I want; and that is not at all what I would ask you. I am interested to know, in general, are you a great lover of cheerful company? Do you take advantages of festive occasions; and well, do you lead a melancholy or cheerful manner of life?”

“Krestyan Ivanovitch, I …”

“H’m! … I tell you,” interrupted the doctor, “that you must have a radical change of life, must, in a certain sense, break in your character.” (Krestyan Ivanovitch laid special stress on the word “break in,” and paused for a moment with a very significant air.) “Must not shrink from gaiety, must visit entertainments and clubs, and in any case, be not hostile to the bottle. Sitting at home is not right for you … sitting at home is impossible for you.”

“I like quiet, Krestyan Ivanovitch,” said Mr. Golyadkin, with a significant look at the doctor and evidently seeking words to express his ideas more successfully: “In my flat there’s only me and Petrushka… . I mean my man, Krestyan Ivanovitch. I mean to say, Krestyan Ivanovitch, that I go my way, my own way, Krestyan Ivanovitch. I keep myself to myself, and so far as I can see am not dependent on any one. I go out for walks, too, Krestyan Ivanovitch.”

“What? Yes! well, nowadays there’s nothing agreeable in walking: the climate’s extremely bad.”

“Quite so, Krestyan Ivanovitch. Though I’m a peaceable man, Krestyan Ivanovitch, as I’ve had the honour of explaining to you already, yet my way lies apart, Krestyan Ivanovitch. The ways of life are manifold … I mean … I mean to say, Krestyan Ivanovitch… . Excuse me, Krestyan Ivanovitch, I’ve no great gift for eloquent speaking.”

“H’m … you say …”

“I say, you must excuse me, Krestyan Ivanovitch, that as far as I can see I am no great hand at eloquence in speaking,” Mr. Golyadkin articulated, stammering and hesitating, in a half-aggrieved voice. “In that respect, Krestyan Ivanovitch, I’m not quite like other people,” he added, with a peculiar smile, “I can’t talk much, and have never learnt to embellish my speech with literary graces. On the other hand, I cat, Krestyan Ivanovitch; on the other hand, I act, Krestyan Ivanovitch.”

“H’m … How’s that … you act?” responded Krestyan Ivanovitch.

Then silence followed for half a minute. The doctor looked somewhat strangely and mistrustfully at his visitor. Mr. Golyadkin, for his part, too, stole a rather mistrustful glance at the doctor.

“Krestyan Ivanovitch,” he began, going on again in the same tone as before, somewhat irritated and puzzled by the doctors extreme obstinacy: “I like tranquillity and not the noisy gaiety of the world. Among them, I mean, in the noisy world, Krestyan Ivanovitch one must be able to polish the floor with one’s boots …” (here Mr. Golyadkin made a slight scrape on the floor with his toe); “they expect it, and they expect puns too … one must know how to make a perfumed compliment … that’s what they expect there. And I’ve not learnt to do it, Krestyan Ivanovitch, I’ve never learnt all those tricks, I’ve never had the time. I’m a simple person, and not ingenious, and I’ve no external polish. On that side I surrender, Krestyan Ivanovitch, I lay down my arms, speaking in that sense.”

All this Mr. Golyadkin pronounced with an air which made it perfectly clear that our hero was far from regretting that he was laying down his arms in that sense and that he had not learnt these tricks; quite the contrary, indeed. As Krestyan Ivanovitch listened to him, he looked down with a very unpleasant grimace on his face, seeming to have a presentiment of something. Mr. Golyadkin’s tirade was followed by a rather long and significant silence.

“You have, I think, departed a little from the subject,” Krestyan Ivanovitch said at last, in a low voice: “I confess I cannot altogether understand you.”

“I’m not a great hand at eloquent speaking, Krestyan Ivanovitch; I’ve had the honour to inform you, Krestyan Ivanovitch, already,” said Mr. Golyadkin, speaking this time in a sharp and resolute tone.

“H’m!” …

“Krestyan Ivanovitch!” began Mr. Golyadkin again in a low but more significant voice in a somewhat solemn style and emphasizing every point: “Krestyan Ivanovitch, when I came in here I began with apologies. I repeat the same thing again, and again ask for your indulgence. There’s no need for me to conceal it, Krestyan Ivanovitch. I’m an unimportant man, as you know; but fortunately for me, I do not regret being an unimportant man. Quite the contrary, indeed, Krestyan Ivanovitch, and, to be perfectly frank, I’m proud that I’m not a great man but an unimportant man. I’m not one to intrigue and I’m proud of that too, I don’t act on the sly, but openly, without cunning, and although I could do harm too, and a great deal of harm, indeed, and know to whom and how to do it, Krestyan Ivanovitch, yet I won’t sully myself, and in that sense I was my hands. In that sense, I say, I wash them, Krestyan Ivanovitch!” Mr. Golyadkin paused expressively for a moment; he spoke with mild fervour.

“I set to work, Krestyan Ivanovitch,” our hero continued, “directly, openly, by no devious ways, for I disdain them, and leave them to others. I do not try to degrade those who are perhaps purer than you and I … that is, I mean, I and they, Krestyan Ivanovitch - I didn’t mean you. I don’t like insinuations; I’ve no taste for contemptible duplicity; I’m disgusted by slander and calumny. I only put on a mask at a masquerade, and don’t wear one before people every day. I only ask you, Krestyan Ivanovitch, how you would revenge yourself upon your enemy, your most malignant enemy - the one you would consider such?” Mr. Golyadkin concluded with a challenging glance at Krestyan Ivanovitch.

Though Mr. Golyadkin pronounced this with the utmost distinctness and clearness, weighing his words with a self-confident air and reckoning on their probable effect, yet meanwhile he looked at Krestyan Ivanovitch with anxiety, with great anxiety, with extreme anxiety. Now he was all eyes: and timidly waited for the doctor’s answer with irritable and agonized impatience. But to the perplexity and complete amazement of our hero, Krestyan Ivanovitch only muttered something to himself; then he moved his armchair up to the table, and rather drily though politely announced something to the effect that his time was precious, and that he did not quite understand; that he was ready, however, to attend to him as far as he was able, but he wold not go into anything further that did not concern him. At this point he took the pen, drew a piece of paper towards him, cut out of it the usual long strip, and announced that he would immediately prescribe what was necessary.

“No, it’s not necessary, Krestyan Ivanovitch! No, that’s not necessary at all!” said Mr. Golyadkin, getting up from his seat, and clutching Krestyan Ivanovitch’s right hand. “That isn’t what’s wanted, Krestyan Ivanovitch.”

And, while he said this, a queer change came over him. His grey eyes gleamed strangely, his lips began to quiver, all the muscles, all the features of his face began moving and working. He was trembling all over. After stopping the doctor’s hand, Mr. Golyadkin followed his first movement by standing motionless, as though he had no confidence in himself and were waiting for some inspiration for further action.

Then followed a rather strange scene.

Somewhat perplexed, Krestyan Ivanovitch seemed for a moment rooted to his chair and gazed open-eyed in bewilderment at Mr. Golyadkin, who looked at him in exactly the same way. At last Krestyan Ivanovitch stood up, gently holding the lining of Mr. Golyadkin’s coat. For some seconds they both stood like that, motionless, with their eyes fixed on each other. Then, however, in an extraordinarily strange way came Mr. Golyadkin’s second movement. His lips trembled, his chin began twitching, and our hero quite unexpectedly burst into tears. Sobbing, shaking his head and striking himself on the chest with his right hand, while with his left clutching the lining of the doctor’s coat, he tried to say something and to make some explanation but could not utter a word.

At last Krestyan Ivanovitch recovered from his amazement.

“Come, calm yourself!” he brought out at last, trying to make Mr. Golyadkin sit down in an armchair.

“I have enemies, Krestyan Ivanovitch, I have enemies; I have malignant enemies who have sworn to ruin me …” Mr Golyadkin answered in a frightened whisper.

“Come, come, why enemies? you mustn’t talk about enemies! You really mustn’t. Sit down, sit down,” Krestyan Ivanovitch went on, getting Mr. Golyadkin once and for all into the armchair.

Mr. Golyadkin sat down at last, still keeping his eyes fixed on the doctor. With an extremely displeased air, Krestyan Ivanovitch strode from one end of the room to another. A long silence followed.

“I’m grateful to you, Krestyan Ivanovitch, I’m very grateful, and I’m very sensible of all you’ve done for me now.

To my dying day I shall never forget your kindness, Krestyan Ivanovitch,” said Mr. Golyadkin, getting up from his seat with an offended air.

“Come, give over! I tell you, give over!” Krestyan Ivanovitch responded rather sternly to Mr. Golyadkin’s outburst, making him sit down again.

“Well , what’s the matter? Tell me what is unpleasant,” Krestyan Ivanovitch went on, “and what enemies are you talking about? What is wrong?”

“No, Krestyan Ivanovitch we’d better leave that now,” answered Mr. Golyadkin, casting down his eyes; “let us put all that aside for the time… . Till another time, Krestyan Ivanovitch, till a more convenient moment, when everything will be discovered and the mask falls off certain faces, and something comes to light. But, meanwhile, now, of course, after what has passed between us … you will agree yourself, Krestyan Ivanovitch… . Allow me to wish you good morning, Krestyan Ivanovitch,” said Mr. Golyadkin, getting up gravely and resolutely and taking his hat.

“Oh, well … as you like … h’m …” (A moment of silence followed.) “For my part, you know … whatever I can do … and I sincerely wish you well.”

“I understand you, Krestyan Ivanovitch, I understand: I understand you perfectly now … In any case excuse me for having troubled you, Krestyan Ivanovitch.”

“H’m, no, I didn’t mean that. However, as you please; go on taking the medicines as before… .”

“I will go with the medicines as you say, Krestyan Ivanovitch. I will go on with them, and I will get them at the same chemist’s … To be a chemist nowadays, Krestyan Ivanovitch, is an important business… .”

“How so? In what sense do you mean?”

“In a very ordinary sense, Krestyan Ivanovitch. I mean to say that nowadays that’s the way of the world…”


“And that every silly youngster, not only a chemist’s boy turns up his nose at respectable people.”

“H’m. How do you understand that?”

“I’m speaking of a certain person, Krestyan Ivanovitch … of a common acquaintance of ours, Krestyan Ivanovitch, of Vladimir Semyonovitch …”


“Yes, Krestyan Ivanovitch: and I know certain people, Krestyan Ivanovitch, who didn’t keep to the general rule of telling the truth, sometimes.”

“Ah! How so?”

“Why, yes, it is so: but that’s neither here nor there: they sometimes manage to serve you up a fine egg in gravy.”

“What? Serve up what?”

“An egg in gravy, Krestyan Ivanovitch. It’s a Russian saying. They know how to congratulate some one the right moment, for instance; there are people like that.”


“yes, congratulate, Krestyan Ivanovitch, as some one I know very well did the other day!” …

“Some one you know very well … Ah! how was that?” said Krestyan Ivanovitch, looking attentively at Mr. Golyadkin.

“Yes, some one I know very well indeed congratulated some one else I know very well - and, what’s more, a comrade, a friend of his heart, on his promotion, on his receiving the rank of assessor. This was how it happened to come up: ‘I am exceedingly glad of the opportunity to offer you, Vladimir Semyonovitch, my congratulations, my sincere congratulations, on your receiving the rank of assessor. And I’m the more please, as all the world knows that there are old women nowadays who tell fortunes.’”

At this point Mr. Golyadkin gave a sly nod, and screwing up his eyes, looked at Krestyan Ivanovitch …

“H’m. So he said that… .”

“He did, Krestyan Ivanovitch, he said it and glanced at once at Andrey Filippovitch, the uncle of out Prince Charming, Vladimir Semyonovitch. But what is it to me, Krestyan Ivanovitch, that he has been made an assessor? What is it to me? And he wants to get married and the milk is scarcely dry on his lips, if I may be allowed the expression. And I said as much. Vladimir Semyonovitch, said I! I’ve said everything now; allow me to withdraw.”

“H’m …”

“Yes, Krestyan Ivanovitch, all me now, I say, to withdraw. But, to kill two birds with one stone, as I twitted our young gentleman with the old women, I turned to Klara Olsufyevna (it all happened the same day, before yesterday at Olsufy Ivanovitch’s), and she had only just sung a song with feeling, ‘You’ve sung songs of feeling, madam,’ said I, ‘but they’ve not been listened to with a pure heart.’ And by that I hinted plainly, Krestyan Ivanovitch, hinted plainly, that they were not running after her now, but looking higher …”

“Ah! And what did he say?”

“He swallowed the pill, Krestyan Ivanovitch, as the saying is.”

“H’m …”

“Yes, Krestyan Ivanovitch. To the old man himself, too, I said, ‘Olsufy Ivanovitch,’ said I, ‘I know how much I’m indebted to you, I appreciate to the full all the kindness you’ve showered upon me from my childhood up. But open your eyes, Olsufy Ivanovitch,’ I said. ‘Look about you. I myself do things openly and aboveboard, Olsufy Ivanovitch.’”

“Oh, really!”

“Yes, Krestyan Ivanovitch. Really …”

“What did he say?”

“Yes, what, indeed, Krestyan Ivanovitch? He mumbled one thing and another, and ‘I know you,’ and that ‘his Excellency was a benevolent man’ - he rambled on … But, there, you know! he’s begun to be a bit shaky, as they say, with old age.”

“Ah! So that’s how it is now …”

“Yes, Krestyan Ivanovitch. And that’s how we all are! Poor old man! He looks towards the grave, breathes incense, as they say, while they concoct a piece of womanish gossip and he listens to it; without him they wouldn’t …”

“Gossip, you say?”

“Yes, Krestyan Ivanovitch, they’ve concocted a womanish scandal. Our bear, too, had a finger in it, and his nephew, our Prince Charming. They’ve joined hands with the old women and, of course, they’ve concocted the affair. Would you believe it? They plotted the murder of some one! …”

“The murder of some one?”

“Yes, Krestyan Ivanovitch, the moral murder of some one. They spread about … I’m speaking of a man I know very well.”

Krestyan Ivanovitch nodded.

“They spread rumours about him … I confess I’m ashamed to repeat them, Krestyan Ivanovitch.”

“H’m.” …

“They spread a rumour that he had signed a promise to marry though he was already engaged in another quarter … and would you believe it, Krestyan Ivanovitch, to whom?”


“To a cook, to a disreputable German woman from whom he used to get his dinners; instead of paying what he owed, he offered her his hand.”

“Is that what they say?”

“Would you believe it, Krestyan Ivanovitch? A low German, a nasty shameless German, Karolina Ivanovna, if you know …”

“I confess, for my part …”

“I understand you, Krestyan Ivanovitch, I understand, and for my part I feel it …”

“Tell me, please, where are you living now?”

“Where am I living now, Krestyan Ivanovitch?”

“Yes … I want … I believe you used to live …”

“Yes, Krestyan Ivanovitch, I did, I used to. To be sure I lived!” answered Mr. Golyadkin, accompanying his words with a little laugh, and somewhat disconcerting Krestyan Ivanovitch by his answer.

“No, you misunderstood me; I meant to say …”

“I, too, meant to say, Krestyan Ivanovitch, I meant it too,” Mr. Golyadkin continued, laughing. “But I’ve kept you far too long, Krestyan Ivanovitch. I hope you will allow me now, to wish you good morning.”

“H’m …”

“Yes, Krestyan Ivanovitch, I understand you; I fully understand you now,” said our hero, with a slight flourish before Krestyan Ivanovitch. “And so permit me to wish you good morning …”

At this point our hero made a scraping with the toe of his boot and walked out of the room, leaving Krestyan Ivanovitch in the utmost amazement. As he went down the doctor’s stairs he smiled and rubbed his hands gleefully. On the steps, breathing the fresh air and feeling himself at liberty, he was certainly prepared to admit that he was the happiest of mortals, and thereupon to go straight to his office - when suddenly his carriage rumbled up to the door: he glanced at it and remembered everything. Petrushka was already opening the carriage door. Mr. Golyadkin was completely overwhelmed by a strong and unpleasant sensation. He blushed, as it were, for a moment. Something seemed to stab him. He was just about to raise his foot to the carriage step when he suddenly turned round and looked towards Krestyan Ivanovitch’s window. Yes, it was so! Krestyan Ivanovitch was standing at the window, was stroking his whiskers with his right hand and staring with some curiosity at the hero of out story.

“That doctor is silly,” thought Mr. Golyadkin, huddling out of sight in the carriage; “extremely silly. He may treat his patients all right, but still … he’s as stupid as a post.”

Mr. Golyadkin sat down, Petrushka shouted “Off!” and the carriage rolled towards Nevsky Prospect again.

Chapter 3

All that morning was spent by Mr. Golyadkin in a strange bustle of activity. On reaching the Nevsky Prospect our hero told the driver to stop at the bazaar. Skipping out of his carriage, he ran to the Arcade, accompanied by Petrushka, and went straight to a shop where gold and silver articles were for sale. One could see from his very air that he was overwhelmed with business and had a terrible amount to do. Arranging to purchase a complete dinner- and tea-service for fifteen hundred roubles and including in the bargain for that sum a cigar-case of ingenious form and a silver shaving-set, and finally, asking the price of some other articles, useful and agreeable in their own way, he ended by promising to come without fail next day, or to send for his purchases the same day. He took the number of the shop, and listening attentively to the shopkeeper, who was very pressing for a small deposit, said that he should have it all in good time. After which he took leave of the amazed shopkeeper and, followed by a regular flock of shopmen, walked along the Arcade, continually looking round at Petrushka and diligently seeking our fresh shops. On the way he dropped into a money-changer’s and changed all his big notes into small ones, and though he lost on the exchange, his pocket-book was considerably fatter, which evidently afforded him extreme satisfaction. Finally, he stopped at a shop for ladies’ dress materials. Here, too, after deciding to purchase good for a considerable sum, Mr. Golyadkin promised to come again, took the number of the shop and, on being asked for a deposit, assured the shopkeeper that “he should have a deposit too, all in good time.” Then he visited several other shops, making purchases in each of them, asked the price of various things, sometimes arguing a long time with the shopkeeper, going out of the shop and returning two or three times - in fact he displayed exceptional activity. From the Arcade our hero went to a well-known furniture shop, where he ordered furniture for six rooms; he admired a fashionable and very toilet table for ladies’ use in the latest style, and, assuring the shopkeeper than he would certainly send for all these things, walked out of the shop, as usual promising a deposit. then he went off somewhere else and ordered something more. In short, there seemed to be no end to the business he had to get through. At last, Mr. Golyadkin seemed to grow heartily sick of it all, and he began, goodness knows why, to be tormented by the stings of conscience. Nothing would have induced him now, for instance, to meet Andrey Filippovitch, or even Krestyan Ivanovitch.

At last, the town clock struck three. When Mr. Golyadkin finally took his seat in the carriage, of all the purchases he had made that morning he had, it appeared, in reality only got a pair of gloves and a bottle of scent, that cost a rouble and a half. As it was still rather early, he ordered his coachman to stop near a well-known restaurant in Nevsky Prospect which he only knew by reputation, got out of the carriage, and hurried in to have a light lunch, to rest and to wait for the hour fixed for the dinner.

Lunching as a man lunches who has the prospect before him of going out to a sumptuous dinner, that is, taking a snack of something in order to still the pangs, as they say, and drinking one small glass of vodka, Mr. Golyadkin established himself in an armchair and, modestly looking about him, peacefully settled down to an emaciated nationalist paper. After reading a couple of lines he stood up and looked in the looking-glass, set himself to rights and smoothed himself down; then he went to the window and looked to see whether his carriage was there … then he sat down again in his place and took up the paper. It was noticeable that our hero was in great excitement. Glancing at his watch and seeing that it was only a quarter past three and that he had consequently a good time to wait and, at the same time, opining that to sit like that was unsuitable, Mr. Golyadkin ordered chocolate, though he felt no particular inclination for it at the moment. Drinking the chocolate and noticing that the time had moved on a little, he went up to pay his bill.

He turned round and saw facing him two of his colleagues, the same two he had met that morning in Liteyny Street, - young men, very much his juniors both in age and rank. Our hero’s relations with them were neither one thing nor the other, neither particularly friendly nor openly hostile. Good manners were, of course, observed on both sides: there was no closer intimacy, nor could there be. The meeting at this moment was extremely distasteful to Mr. Golyadkin. He frowned a little, and was disconcerted for an instant.

“Yakov Petrovitch, Yakov Petrovitch!” chirped the two register clerks; “you here? what brings you? …”

“Ah, it is you, gentlemen,” Mr. Golyadkin interrupted hurriedly, somewhat embarrassed and scandalized by the amazement of the clerks and by the abruptness of their address, but feeling obliged, however, to appear jaunty and free and easy. “You’ve deserted gentlemen, he-he-he …” Then, to keep up his dignity and to condescend to the juveniles, with whom he never overstepped certain limits, he attempted to slap one of the youths on the shoulder; but this effort at good fellowship did not succeed and, instead of being a well-bred little jest, produced quite a different effect.

“Well, and our bear, is he still at the office?”

“Who’s that, Yakov Petrovitch?”

“Why, the bear. Do you mean to say you don’t know whose name that is? …” Mr. Golyadkin laughed and turned to the cashier to take his change.

“I mean Andrey Filippovitch, gentlemen,” he went on, finishing with the cashier, and turning to the clerks this time with a very serious face. The two register clerks winked at one another.

“He’s still at the office and asking for you, Yakov Petrovitch,” answered one of them.

“At the office, eh! In that case, let him stay, gentlemen. And asking for me, eh?”

“He was asking for you, Yakov Petrovitch; but what’s up with you, scented, pomaded, and such a swell? …”

“Nothing, gentlemen, nothing! that’s enough,” answered Mr. Golyadkin, looking away with a constrained smile. Seeing that Mr. Golyadkin was smiling, the clerks laughed aloud. Mr. Golyadkin was a little offended.

“I’ll tell you as friends, gentlemen,” our hero said, after a brief silence, as though making up his mind (which, indeed, was the case) to reveal something to them. “You all know me, gentlemen, but hitherto you’ve known me only on one side. no one is to blame for that and I’m conscious that the fault has been partly my own.”

Mr. Golyadkin pursed his lips and looked significantly at the clerks. The clerks winked at one another again.

“Hitherto, gentlemen, you have not known me. To explain myself here and now would not be appropriate. I will only touch on it lightly in passing. There are people, gentlemen, who dislike roundabout ways and only mask themselves at masquerades. There are people who do not see man’s highest avocation in polishing the floor with their boots. There are people, gentlemen, who refuse to say that they are happy and enjoying a full life when, for instance, their trousers set properly. There are people, finally, who dislike dashing and whirling about for no object, fawning, and licking the dust, and above all, gentlemen, poking their noses where they are not wanted… I’ve told you almost everything, gentlemen; now allow me to withdraw…”

Mr. Golyadkin paused. As the register clerks had not got all that they wanted, both of them with great incivility burst into shouts of laughter. Mr. Golyadkin flared up.

“Laugh away, gentlemen, laugh away for the time being! If you live long enough you will see,” he said, with a feeling of offended dignity, taking his hat and retreating to the door.

“But I will say more, gentlemen,” he added, turning for the last time to the register clerks, “I will say more - you are both here with me face to face. This, gentlemen, is my rule: if I fail I don’t lose heart, if I succeed I persevere, and in any case I am never underhand. I’m not one to intrigue - and I’m proud of it. I’ve never prided myself on diplomacy. They say, too, gentlemen, that the bird flies itself to the hunter. It’s true and I’m ready to admit it; but who’s the hunter, and who’s the bird in this case? That is still the question, gentlemen!”

Mr. Golyadkin subsided into eloquent silence, and, with a most significant air, that is, pursing up his lips and raising his eyebrows as high as possible, he bowed to the clerks and walked out, leaving them in the utmost amazement.

“What are your orders now?” Petrushka asked, rather gruffly; he was probably weary of hanging about in the cold. “What are your orders?” he asked Mr. Golyadkin, meeting the terrible, withering glance with which our hero had protected himself twice already that morning, and to which he had recourse now for the third time as he came down the steps.

“To Ismailovsky Bridge.”

“To Ismailovsky Bridge! Off!”

“Their dinner will not begin till after four, or perhaps five o’clock,” thought Mr. Golyadkin; “isn’t it early now? However, I can go a little early; besides, it’s only a family dinner. And so I can go sans facons, as they say among well-bred people. Why shouldn’t I go sans facons? The bear told us, too, that it would all be sans facons, and so I will be the same… .” Such were Mr. Golyadkin’s reflections and meanwhile his excitement grew more and more acute. It could be seen that he was preparing himself for some great enterprise, to say nothing more; he muttered to himself, gesticulated with his right hand, continually looked out of his carriage window, so that, looking at Mr. Golyadkin, no one would have said that he was on his way to a good dinner, and only a simple dinner in his family circle - sans facons, as they say among well-bred people. Finally, just at Ismailovsky Bridge, Mr. Golyadkin pointed out a house; and the carriage rolled up noisily and stopped at the first entrance on the right. Noticing a feminine figure at the second storey window, Mr. Golyadkin kissed his hand to her. He had, however, not the slightest idea what he was doing, for he felt more dead than alive at the moment. He got out of the carriage pale, distracted; he mounted the steps, took off his hat, mechanically straightened himself, and though he felt a slight trembling in his knees, he went upstairs.

“Olsufy Ivanovitch?” he inquired of the man who opened the door.

“At home, sir; at least he’s not at home, his honour’s not at home.”

“What? What do you mean, my good man? I-I’ve come to dinner, brother. Why, you know me?”

“To be sure I know you! I’ve orders not to admit you.”

“You … you, brother … you must be making a mistake. It’s I, my boy, I’m invited; I’ve come to dinner,” Mr. Golyadkin announced, taking off his coat and displaying unmistakable intentions of going into the room.

“Allow me, sir, you can’t, sir. I’ve orders not to admit you. I’ve orders to refuse you. That’s how it is.”

Mr. Golyadkin turned pale. At that very moment the door of the inner room opened and Gerasimitch, Olsufy Ivanovitch’s old butler, came out.

“You see the gentlemen wants to go in, Emelyan Gerasimitch, and I …”

“And you’re a fool, Alexeitch. Go inside and send the rascal Semyonovitch here. It’s impossible,” he said politely but firmly, addressing Mr. Golyadkin. “It’s quite impossible. His honour begs you to excuse him; he can’t see you.”

“He said he couldn’t see me?” Mr. Golyadkin asked uncertainly. “Excuse me, Gerasimitch, why is it impossible?”

“It’s quite impossible. I’ve informed your honour; they said ‘Ask him to excuse us.’ They can’t see you.”

“Why not? How’s that? Why.”

“Allow me, allow me! …”

“How is it though? It’s out of the question! Announce me … How is it? I’ve come to dinner…”

“Excuse me, excuse me …”

“Ah, well, that’s a different matter, they asked to be excused: but, allow me, Gerasimitch; how is it, Gerasimitch?”

“Excuse me, excuse me! replied Gerasimitch, very firmly putting away Mr. Golyadkin’s hand and making way for two gentlemen who walked into the entry that very instant. The gentlemen in question were Andrey Filippovitch and his nephew Vladimir Semyonovitch. Both of the looked with amazement at Mr. Golyadkin. Andrey Filippovitch seemed about to say something, but Mr. Golyadkin had by now made up his mind: he was by now walking out of Olsufy Ivanovitch’s entry, blushing and smiling, with eyes cast down and a countenance of helpless bewilderment. “I will come afterwards, Gerasimitch; I will explain myself: I hope that all this will without delay be explained in due season… .”

“Yakov Petrovitch, Yakov Petrovitch …” He heard the voice of Andrey Filippovitch following him.

Mr. Golyadkin was by that time on the first landing. He turned quickly to Andrey Filippovitch.

“What do you desire, Andrey Filippovitch?” he said in a rather resolute voice.

“What’s wrong with you, Yakov Petrovitch? In what way?”

“No matter, Andrey Filippovitch. I’m on my own account here. This is my private life, Andrey Filippovitch.”

“What’s that?”

“I say, Andrey Filippovitch, that this is my private life, and as for my being here, as far as I can see, there’s nothing reprehensible to be found in it as regards my official relations.”

“What! As regards your official … What’s the matter with you, my good sir?”

“Nothing, Andrey Filippovitch, absolutely nothing; an impudent slut of a girl, and nothing more …”

“What! What?” Andrey Filippovitch was stupefied with amazement. Mr. Golyadkin, who had up till then looked as though he would fly into Andrey Filippovitch’s face, seeing that the head of his office was laughing a little, almost unconsciously took a step forward. Andrey Filippovitch jumped back. Mr. Golyadkin went up one step and then another. Andrey Filippovitch looked about him uneasily. Mr. Golyadkin mounted the stairs rapidly. Still more rapidly Andrey Filippovitch darted into the flat and slammed the door after him. Mr. Golyadkin was left alone. Everything grew dark before his eyes. He was utterly nonplussed, and stood now in a sort of senseless hesitation, as though recalling something extremely senseless, too, that had happened quite recently. “Ech, ech!” he muttered, smiling with constraint. Meanwhile, there came the sounds of steps and voices on the stairs, probably of other guests invited by Olsufy Ivanovitch. Mr. Golyadkin recovered himself to some extent; put up his racoon collar, concealing himself behind it as far as possible, and began going downstairs with rapid little steps, tripping and stumbling in his haste. He felt overcome by a sort of weakness and numbness. His confusion was such that, when he came out on the steps, he did not even wait for his carriage but walked across the muddy court to it. When he reached his carriage and was about to get into it, Mr. Golyadkin inwardly uttered a desire to sink into the earth, or to hide in a mouse hole together with his carriage. It seemed to him that everything in Olsufy Ivanovitch’s house was looking at him now out of every window. He knew that he would certainly die on the spot if he were to go back.

“What are you laughing at, blockhead?” he said in a rapid mutter to Petrushka, who was preparing to help him into the carriage.

“What should I laugh at? I’m not doing anything; where are we to drive to now?”

“Go home, drive on… .”

“Home, off!” shouted Petrushka, climbing on to the footboard.

“What a crow’s croak!” thought Mr. Golyadkin. Meanwhile, the carriage had driven a good distance from Ismailovsky Bridge. Suddenly our hero pulled the cord with all his might and shouted to the driver to turn back at once. The coachman turned his horses and within two minutes was driving into Olsufy Ivanovitch’s yard again.

“Don’t, don’t, you fool, back!” shouted Mr. Golyadkin - and, as though he were expecting this order, the driver made no reply but, without stopping at the entrance, drove all round the courtyard and out into the street again.

Mr. Golyadkin did not drive home, but, after passing the Semyonovsky Bridge, told the driver to return to a side street and stop near a restaurant of rather modest appearance. Getting out of the carriage, our hero settled up with the driver and so got rid of his equipage at last. He told Petrushka to go home and await his return, while he went into the restaurant, took a private room and ordered dinner. He felt very ill and his brain was in the utmost confusion and chaos. For a long time he walked up and down the room in agitation; at last he sat down in a chair, propped his brow in his hands and began doing his very utmost to consider and settle something relating to his present position.

Chapter 4

That day the birthday of Klara Olsufyevna, the only daughter of the civil councillor, Berendyev, at one time Mr. Golyadkin’s benefactor and patron, was being celebrated by a brilliant and sumptuous dinner-party, such as had not been seen for many a long day within the walls of the flats in the neighbourhood of Ismailovsky Bridge - a dinner more like some Balthazar’s feast, with a suggestion of something Babylonian in its brilliant luxury and style, with Veuve-Clicquot champagne, with oysters and fruit from Eliseyev’s and Milyutin’s, with all sorts of fatted calves, and all grades of the government service. This festive day was to conclude with a brilliant ball, a small birthday ball, but yet brilliant in its taste, its distinction and its style. Of course, I am willing to admit that similar balls do happen sometimes, though rarely. Such balls, more like family rejoicings than balls, can only be given in such houses as that of the civil councillor, Berendyev. I will say more: I even doubt if such balls could be given in the houses of all civil councillors. Oh, if I were a poet! such as Homer or Pushkin, I mean, of course; with any lesser talent one would not venture - I should certainly have painted all that glorious day for you, oh, my readers, with a free brush and brilliant colours! Yes, I should begin my poem with my dinner, I should lay special stress on that striking and solemn moment when the first goblet was raised to the honour of the queen of the fete. I should describe to you the guests plunged in a reverent silence and expectation, as eloquent as the rhetoric of Demosthenes; I should describe for you, then, how Andrey Filippovitch, having as the eldest of the guests some right to take precedence, adorned with his grey hairs and the orders what well befit grey hairs, got up from his seat and raised above his head the congratulatory glass of sparkling wine - brought from a distant kingdom to celebrate such occasions and more like heavenly nectar than plain wine. I would portray for you the guests and the happy parents raising their glasses, too, after Andrey Filippovitch, and fastening upon him eyes full of expectation. I would describe for you how the same Andrey Filippovitch, so often mentioned, after dropping a tear in his glass, delivered his congratulations and good wishes, proposed the toast and drank the health … but I confess, I freely confess, that I could not do justice to the solemn moment when the queen of the fete, Klara Olsufyevna, blushing like a rose in spring, with the glow of bliss and of modesty, was so overcome by her feelings that she sank into the arms of her tender mamma; how that tender mamma shed tears, and how the father, Olsufy Ivanovitch, a hale old man and a privy councillor, who had lost the use of his legs in his long years of service and been rewarded by destiny for his devotion with investments, a house, some small estates, and a beautiful daughter, sobbed like a little child and announced through his tears that his Excellency was a benevolent man. I could not, I positively could not, describe the enthusiasm that followed that moment in every heart, an enthusiasm clearly evinced in the conduct of a youthful register clerk (though at that moment he was more like a civil councillor than a register clerk), who was moved to tears, too, as he listened to Andrey Filippovitch. In his turn, too, Andrey Filippovitch was in that solemn moment quite unlike a collegiate councillor and the head of an office in the department - yes, he was something else … what, exactly, I do not know, but not a collegiate councillor. He was more exalted! Finally … Oh, why do I not possess the secret of lofty, powerful language, of the sublime style, to describe these grand and edifying moments of human life, which seem created expressly to prove that virtue sometimes triumphs over ingratitude, free-thinking, vice and envy! I will say nothing, but in silence - which will be better than any eloquence - I will point to that fortunate youth, just entering on his twenty-sixth spring - to Vladimir Semyonovitch, Andrey Filippovitch’s nephew, who in his turn now rose from his seat, who in his turn proposed a toast, and upon whom were fastened the tearful eyes of the parents, the proud eyes of Andrey Filippovitch, the modest eyes of the queen of the fete, the solemn eyes of the guests and even the decorously envious eyes of some of the young man’s youthful colleagues. I will say nothing of that, though I cannot refrain from observing that everything in that young man - who was, indeed, speaking in a complimentary sense, more like an elderly than a young man - everything, from his blooming cheeks to his assessorial rank seemed almost to proclaim aloud the lofty pinnacle a man can attain through morality and good principles! I will not describe how Anton Antonovitch Syetotochkin, a little old man as grey as a badger, the head clerk of a department, who was a colleague of Andrey Filippovitch’s and had once been also of Olsufy Ivanovitch’s, and was an old friend of the family and Klara Olsufyevna’s godfather, in his turn proposed a toast, crowed like a cock, and cracked many little jokes; how by this extremely proper breach of propriety, if one may use such an expression, he made the whole company laugh till they cried, and how Klara Olsufyevna, at her parents’ bidding, rewarded him for his jocularity and politeness with a kiss. I will only say that the guests, who must have felt like kinsfolk and brothers after such a dinner, at last rose from the table, and the elderly and more solid guests, after a brief interval spent in friendly conversation, interspersed with some candid, though, of course, very polite and proper observations, went decorously into the next room and, without losing valuable time, promptly divided themselves up into parties and, full of the sense of their own dignity, installed themselves at tables covered with green baize. Meanwhile, the ladies established in the drawing-room suddenly became very affable and began talking about dress-materials. And the venerable host, who had lost the use of his legs in the service of loyalty and religion, and had been rewarded with all the blessings we have enumerated above, began walking about on crutches among his guests, supported by Vladimir Semyonovitch and Klara Olsufyevna, and he, too, suddenly becoming extremely affable, decided to improvise a modest little dance, regardless of expense; to that end a nimble youth (the one who was more like a civil councillor than a youth) was despatched to fetch musicians, and musicians to the number of eleven arrived, and exactly at half-past eight struck up the inviting strains of a French quadrille, followed by various other dances… . It is needless to say that my pen is too weak, dull, and spiritless to describe the dance that owed its inspiration to the genial hospitality of the grey-headed host. And how, I ask, can the modest chronicler of Mr. Golyadkin’s adventures, extremely interesting as they are in their own way, how can I depict the choice and rare mingling of beauty, brilliance, style, gaiety, polite solidity and solid politeness, sportiveness, joy, all the mirth and playfulness of these wives and daughters of petty officials, more like fairies than ladies - in a complimentary sense - with their lily shoulders and their rosy faces, their ethereal figures, their playfully agile homeopathic - to use the exalted language appropriate - little feet? How can I describe to you, finally, the gallant officials, their partners - gay and solid youths, steady, gleeful, decorously vague, smoking a pipe in the intervals between the dancing in a little green room apart, or not smoking a pipe in the intervals between the dances, every one of them with a highly respectable surname and rank in the service - all steeped in a sense of the elegant and a sense of their own dignity; almost all speaking French to their partners, or if Russian, using only the most well-bred expressions, compliments and profound observations, and only in the smoking -room permitting themselves some genial lapses from this high tone, some phrases of cordial and friendly brevity, such, for instance, as: “‘Pon my soul, Petka, you rake, you did kick me off that polka in style,” or, “I say, Vasya, you dog, you did give your partner a time of it.” For all this, as I’ve already had the honour of explaining, oh, my readers! my pen fails me, and therefore I am dumb. Let us rather return to Mr. Golyadkin, the true and only hero of my very truthful tale.

The fact is that he found himself now in a very strange position, to the least of it. He was here also, gentlemen - that is, not at the dance, but almost at the dance; he was “all right, though; he could take care of himself,” yet at that moment he was a little astray; he was standing at that moment , strange to say - on the landing of the back stairs to Olsufy Ivanovitch’s flat. But it was “all right” his standing there; he was “quite well.” He was standing in a corner, huddled in a place which was not very warm, though it was dark, partly hidden by a huge cupboard and an old screen, in the midst of rubbish, litter, and odds and ends of all sorts, concealing himself for the time being and watching the course of proceedings as a disinterested spectator. He was only looking on now, gentlemen; he, too, gentlemen, might go in, of course … why should he not go in? He had only to take one step and he would go in, and would go in very adroitly. Just now, though he had been standing nearly three hours between the cupboard and the screen in the midst of the rubbish, litter and odds and ends of all sorts, he was only quoting, in his own justification, a memorable phrase of the French minister, Villesle: “All things come in time to him who has the strength to wait.” Mr. Golyadkin had read this sentence in some book on quite a different subject, but now very aptly recalled it. The phrase, to begin with, was exceedingly appropriate to his present position, and, indeed, why should it not occur to the mind of a man who had been waiting for almost three hours in the cold and the dark in expectation of a happy ending to his adventures. After quoting very appropriately the phrase of the French minister, Villesle, Mr. Golyadkin immediately thought of the Turkish Vizier, Martsimiris, as well as of the beautiful Mergravine Luise, whose story he had read also in some book. Then it occurred to his mind that the Jesuits made it their rule that any means were justified if only the end were attained. Fortifying himself somewhat with this historical fact, Mr. Golyadkin said to himself, What were the Jesuits? The Jesuits were every one of them very great fools; that he was better than any of them; that if only the refreshment-room would be empty for one minute (the door of the refreshment-room opened straight into the passage to the back stairs, where Mr. Golyadkin was in hiding now), he would, in spite of all the Jesuits in the world, go straight in, first from the refreshment-room into the tea-room, then into the room where they were now playing cards, and then straight into the hall where they were now dancing the polka, and he would go in - he would slip through - and that would be all, no one would notice him; and once there he would know what to do.

Well, so this is the position in which we find the hero of our perfectly true story, though, indeed, it is difficult to explain what was passing in him at that moment. The fact is that he had made his way to the back of the stairs and to the passage, on the ground that, as he said, “why shouldn’t he? and everyone did go that way?”; but he had not ventured to penetrate further, evidently he did not dare to do so … “not because there was anything he did not dare, but just because he did not care to, because he preferred to be in hiding”; so here he was, waiting now for a chance to slip in, and he had been waiting for it two hours and a half. “Why not wait? Villesle himself had waited. But what had Villesle to do with it?” thought Mr. Golyadkin: “How does Villesle come in? But how am I to … to go and walk in? … Ech, you dummy!” said Mr. Golyadkin, pinching his benumbed cheek with his benumbed fingers; “you silly fool, you silly old Golyadkin - silly fool of a surname!” …

But these compliments paid to himself were only by the way and without any apparent aim. Now he was on the point of pushing forward and slipping in; the refreshment-room was empty and no one was in sight. Mr. Golyadkin saw all this through the little window; in two steps he was at the door and had already opened it. “Should he go in or not? Come, should he or not? I’ll go in … why not? to the bold all ways lie open!” Reassuring himself in this way, our hero suddenly and quite unexpectedly retreated behind the screen. “No,” he thought. “Ah, now, somebody’s coming in? Yes, they’ve come in; why did I dawdle when there were no people about? Even so, shall I go and slip in? … No, how slip in when a man has such a temperament! Fie, what a low tendency! I’m as scared as a hen! Being scared is our special line, that’s the fact of the matter! To be abject on every occasion is our line: no need to ask us about that. Just stand here like a post and that’s all! At home I should be having a cup of tea now … It would be pleasant, too, to have a cup of tea. If I come in later Petrushka ‘ll grumble, maybe. Shall I go home? Damnation take all this! I’ll go and that’ll be the end of it!” Reflecting on his position in this way, Mr. Golyadkin dashed forward as though some one had touched a spring in him; in two steps he found himself in the refreshment-room, flung off his overcoat, took off his hat, hurriedly thrust these things into a corner, straightened himself and smoothed himself down; then …then he moved on to the tea-room, and from the tea-room darted into the next room, slipped almost unnoticed between the card-players, who were at the tip-top of excitement, then … Mr. Golyadkin forgot everything that was going on about him, and went straight as an arrow into the drawing room.

As luck would have it they were not dancing. The ladies were promenading up and down the room in picturesque groups. The gentlemen were standing about in twos and threes or flitting about the room engaging partners. Mr. Golyadkin noticed nothing of this. He saw only Klara Olsufyevna, near her Andrey Filippovitch, then Vladimir Semyonovitch, two or three officers, and, finally, two or three other young men who were also very interesting and, as any one could see at once, were either very promising or had actually done something… . He saw some one else too. Or, rather, he saw nobody and looked at nobody … but, moved by the same spring which had sent him dashing into the midst of a ball to which he had not been invited, he moved forward, and then forwarder and forwarder. On the way he jostled against a councillor and trod on his foot, and incidentally stepped on a very venerable old lady’s dress and tore it a little, pushed against a servant with a tray and then ran against somebody else, and, not noticing all this, passing further and further forward, he suddenly found himself facing Klara Olsufyevna. There is no doubt whatever that he would, with the utmost delight, without winking an eyelid, have sunk through the earth at that moment; but what has once been done cannot be recalled … can never be recalled. What was he to do? “If I fail I don’t lose heart, if I succeed I persevere.” Mr. Golyadkin was, of course, not “one to intrigue,” and “not accomplished in the art of polishing the floor with his boots.” … And so, indeed, it proved. Besides, the Jesuits had some hand in it too … though Mr. Golyadkin had no thoughts to spare for them now! All the moving, noisy, laughing groups were suddenly hushed as though at a signal and, little by little, crowded round Mr. Golyadkin. He, however, seemed to hear nothing, to see nothing, he could not look … he could not possibly look at anything; he kept his eyes on the floor and so stood, giving himself his word of honour, in passing, to shoot himself one way or another that night. Making this vow, Mr. Golyadkin inwardly said to himself, “Here goes!” and to his own great astonishment began unexpectedly to speak.

He began with congratulations and polite wishes. The congratulations went off well, but over the good wishes out hero stammered. He felt that if he stammered all would be lost at once. And so it turned out - he stammered and floundered … floundering, he blushed crimson; blushing, he was overcome with confusion. In his confusion he raised his eyes; raising his eyes he looked about him; looking about him - he almost swooned … Every one stood still, every one was silent, a little nearer there was laughter. Mr. Golyadkin fastened a humble, imploring look on Andrey Filippovitch. Andrey Filippovitch. Andrey Filippovitch responded with such a look that if our hero had not been utterly crushed already he certainly would have been crushed a second time - that is, if that were possible. The silence lasted long.

“This is rather concerned with my domestic circumstances and my private life, Andrey Filippovitch,” our hero, half-dead, articulated in a scarcely audible voice; “it is not an official incident, Andrey Filippovitch …”

“For shame, sir, for shame!” Andrey Filippovitch pronounced in a half whisper, with an indescribable air of indignation; he pronounced these words and, giving Klara Olsufyevna his arm, he turned away from Mr. Golyadkin.

“I’ve nothing to be ashamed of, Andrey Filippovitch,” answered Mr. Golyadkin, also in a whisper, turning his miserable eyes about him, trying helplessly to discover in the amazed crowd something on which he could gain a footing and retrieve his social position.

“Why, it’s all right, it’s nothing, gentlemen! Why, what’s the matter? Why, it might happen to any one,” whispered Mr. Golyadkin, moving a little away and trying to escape from the crowd surrounding him.

They made way for him. Our hero passed through two rows of inquisitive and wondering spectators. Fate drew him on. He felt himself, that fate was leading him on. He would have given a great deal, of course, for a chance to be back in the passage by the back stairs, without having committed a breach of propriety; but as that was utterly impossible he began trying to creep away into a corner and to stand there - modestly, decorously, apart, without interfering with any one, without attracting especial attention, but at the same time to win the favourable notice of his host and the company. At the same time Mr. Golyadkin felt as though the ground were giving way under him, as though he were staggering, falling. At last he made his way to a corner and stood in it, like an unconcerned, rather indifferent spectator, leaning his arms on the backs of two chairs, taking complete possession of them in that way, and trying, as far as he could, to glance confidently at Olsufy Ivanovitch’s guests, grouped about him. Standing nearest him was an officer, a tall and handsome fellow, beside whom Golyadkin felt himself an insect.

“These two chairs, lieutenant, are intended, one for Klara Olsufyevna, and the other for Princess Tchevtchehanov; I’m taking care of them for them,” said Mr. Golyadkin breathlessly, turning his imploring eyes on the officer. The lieutenant said nothing, but turned away with a murderous smile. Checked in this direction, our hero was about to try his luck in another quarter, and directly addressed an important councillor with a cross of great distinction on his breast. But the councillor looked him up and down with such a frigid stare that Mr. Golyadkin felt distinctly as though a whole bucketful of cold water had been thrown over him. He subsided into silence. He made up his mind that it was better to keep quiet, not to open his lips, and to show that he was “all right,” that he was “like every one else,” and that his position, as far as he could see, was quite a proper one. With this object he rivetted his gaze on the lining of his coat, ten raised his eyes and fixed them upon a very respectable-looking gentleman. “That gentleman has a wig on,” thought Mr. Golyadkin; “and if he takes off that wig he will be bald, his head will be as bare as the palm of my hand.” Having made this important discovery, Mr. Golyadkin thought of the Arab Emirs, whose heads are left bare and shaven if they take off the green turbans they wear as a sign of their descent from the prophet Mahomet. Then, probably from some special connection of ideas with the Turks, he thought of Turkish slippers and at once, apropos of that, recalled the fact that Andrey Filippovitch was wearing boots, and that his boots were more like slippers than boots. It was evident that Mr. Golyadkin had become to some extent reconciled to his position. “What if that chandelier,” flashed through Mr. Golyadkin’s mind, “were to come down from the ceiling and fall upon the company. I should rush at once to save Klara Olsufyevna. ‘Save her!’ I should cry. ‘Don’t be alarmed, madam, it’s of no consequence, I will rescue you, I.’ Then …” At that moment Mr. Golyadkin looked about in search of Klara Olsufyevna, and saw Gerasimitch, Olsufy Ivanovitch’s old butler. Gerasimitch, with a most anxious and solemnly official air, was making straight for him. Mr. Golyadkin started and frowned from an unaccountable but most disagreeable sensation; he looked about him mechanically; it occurred to his mind that if only he could somehow creep off somewhere, unobserved, on the sly - simply disappear, that it, behave as though he had done nothing at all, as though the matter did not concern him in the least! … But before hour hero could make up his mind to do anything, Gerasimitch was standing before him.

“Do you see, Gerasimitch,” said our hero, with a little smile, addressing Gerasimitch; “you go and tell them - do you see the candle there in the chandelier, Gerasimitch - it will be falling down directly: so, you know, you must tell them to see to it; it really will fall down, Gerasimitch… .”

“The candle? No, the candle’s standing straight; but somebody is asking for you, sir.”

“Who is asking for me, Gerasimitch?”

“I really can’t say, sir, who it is. A man with a message. ‘Is Yakov Petrovitch Golyadkin here?’ says he. ‘Then call him out,’ says he, ‘on very urgent and important business …’ you see.”

“No, Gerasimitch, you are making a mistake; in that you are making a mistake, Gerasimitch.”

“I doubt it, sir.”

“No, Gerasimitch, it isn’t doubtful; there’s nothing doubtful about it, Gerasimitch. Nobody’s asking for me, but I’m quite at home here - that is, in my right place, Gerasimitch.”

Mr. Golyadkin took breath and looked about him. Yes! every one in the room, all had their eyes fixed upon him, and were listening in a sort of solemn expectation. The men had crowded a little nearer and were all attention. A little further away the ladies were whispering together. The master of the house made his appearance at no great distance from Mr. Golyadkin, and though it was impossible to detect from his expression that he, too, was taking a close and direct interest in Mr. Golyadkin’s position, for everything was being done with delicacy, yet, nevertheless, it all made our hero feel that the decisive moment had come for him. Mr. Golyadkin saw clearly that the time had come for a old stroke, the chance of putting his enemies to shame. Mr. Golyadkin was in great agitation. He was aware of a sort of inspiration and, in a quivering and impressive voice, he began again, addressing the waiting butler -

“No, my dear fellow, no one’s calling for me. You are mistaken. I will say more: you were mistaken this morning too, when you assured me… . dared to assure me, I say (he raised his voice), “that Olsufy Ivanovitch, who has been my benefactor for as long as I can remember and has, in a sense, been a father to me, was shutting his door upon me at the moment of solemn family rejoicing for his paternal heart.” (Mr. Golyadkin looked about him complacently, but with deep feeling. A tear glittered on his eyelash.) “I repeat, my friend,” our hero concluded, “you were mistaken, you were cruelly and unpardonably mistaken… .”

The moment was a solemn one. Mr. Golyadkin felt that the effect was quite certain. He stood with modestly downcast eyes, expecting Olsufy Ivanovitch to embrace him. Excitement and perplexity were apparent in the guests, even the inflexible and terrible Gerasimitch faltered over the words “I doubt it …” when suddenly the ruthless orchestra, apropos of nothing, struck up a polka. All was lost, all was scattered to the winds. Mr. Golyadkin started; Gerasimitch stepped back; everything in the room began undulating like the sea; and Vladimir Semyonovitch led the dance with Klara Olsufyevna, while the handsome lieutenant followed with Princess Tchevtchehanov. Onlookers, curious and delighted, squeezed in to watch them dancing the polka - an interesting, fashionable new dance which every one was crazy over. Mr. Golyadkin was, for the time, forgotten. But suddenly all were thrown into excitement, confusion and bustle; the music ceased … a strange incident had occurred. Tired out with the dance, and almost breathless with fatigue, Klara Olsufyevna, with glowing cheeks and heaving bosom, sank into an armchair, completely exhausted … All hearts turned to the fascinating creature, all vied with one another in complimenting her and thanking her for the pleasure conferred on them, - all at once there stood before her Mr. Golyadkin. He was pale, extremely perturbed; he, too, seemed completely exhausted, he could scarcely move. He was smiling for some reason, he stretched out his hand imploringly. Klara Olsufyevna was so taken aback that she had not time to withdraw hers and mechanically got up at his invitation. Mr. Golyadkin lurched forward, first once, then a second time, then lifted his leg, then made a scrape, then gave a sort of stamp, then stumbled … he, too, wanted to dance with Klara Olsufyevna. Klara Olsufyevna uttered a shriek; every one rushed to release her hand from Mr. Golyadkin’s, and in a moment our hero was carried almost ten paces away by the rush of the crowd. A circle formed round him too. Two old ladies, whom he had almost knocked down in his retreat raised a great shrieking and outcry. The confusion was awful; all were asking questions, every one was shouting, every one was finding fault. The orchestra was silent. Our hero whirled round in his circle and mechanically, with a semblance of a smile, muttered something to himself, such as, “Why not?” and “that the polka, so far, at least, as he could see, was a new and very interesting dance, invented for the diversion of the ladies… but that since things had taken this turn, he was ready to consent.” But Mr. Golyadkin’s consent no one apparently thought of asking. Our hero was suddenly aware that some one’s hand was laid on his arm, that another hand was pressed against his back, that he was with peculiar solicitude being guided in a certain direction. At last he noticed that he was going straight to the door. Mr. Golyadkin wanted to say something, to do something… . But no, he no longer wanted to do anything. He only mechanically kept laughing in answer. At last he was aware that they were putting on his greatcoat, that his hat was thrust over his eyes; finally he felt that he was in the entry on the stairs in the dark and cold. At last he stumbled, he felt that he was falling down a precipice; he tried to cry out - and suddenly he found himself in the courtyard. The air blew fresh on him, he stood still for a minute; at that very instant, the strains reached him of the orchestra striking up again. Mr. Golyadkin suddenly recalled it all; it seemed to him that all his flagging energies came back to him again. He had been standing as though rivetted to the spot, but now he started off and rushed away headlong, anywhere, into the air, into freedom, wherever chance might take him.

Chapter 6

It was striking midnight from all the clock towers in Petersburg when Mr. Golyadkin, beside himself, ran out on the Fontanka Quay, close to the Ismailovsky Bridge, fleeing from his foes, from persecution, from a hailstorm of nips and pinches aimed at him, from the shrieks of excited old ladies, from the Ohs and Ahs of women and from the murderous eyes of Andrey Filippovitch. Mr. Golyadkin was killed - killed entirely, in the full sense of the word, and if he still preserved the power of running, it was simply through some sort of miracle, a miracle in which at last he refused himself to believe. It was an awful November night - wet, foggy, rainy, snowy, teeming with colds in the head, fevers, swollen faces, quinseys, inflammations of all kinds and descriptions - teeming, in fact, with all the gifts of a Petersburg November. The wind howled in the deserted streets, lifting up the black water of the canal above the rings on the bank, and irritably brushing against the lean lamp-posts which chimed in with its howling in a thin, shrill creak, keeping up the endless squeaky, jangling concert with which every inhabitant of Petersburg is so familiar. Snow and rain were falling both at once. Lashed by the wind, the streams of rainwater spurted almost horizontally, as though from a fireman’s hose, pricking and stinging the face of the luckless Mr. Golyadkin like a thousand pins and needles. In the stillness of the night, broken only by the distant rumbling of carriages, the howl of the wind and the creaking of the lamp-posts, there was the dismal sound of the splash and gurgle of water, rushing from every roof, every porch, every pipe and every cornice, on to the granite of the pavement. There was not a soul, near or far, and, indeed, it seemed there could not be at such an hour and in such weather. And so only Mr. Golyadkin, alone with his despair, was fleeing in terror along the pavement of Fontanka, with his usual rapid little step, in haste to get home as soon as possible to his flat on the fourth storey in Shestilavotchny Street.

Though the snow, the rain, and all the nameless horrors of a raging snowstorm and fog, under a Petersburg November sky, were attacking Mr. Golyadkin, already shattered by misfortunes, were showing him no mercy, giving him no rest, drenching him to the bone, glueing up his eyelids, blowing right through him from all sides, baffling and perplexing him - though conspiring and combining with all his enemies to make a grand day, evening, and night for him, in spite of all this Mr. Golyadkin was almost insensible to this final proof of the persecution of destiny: so violent had been the shock and the impression made upon him a few minutes before at the civil councillor Berendyev’s! If any disinterested spectator could have glanced casually at Mr. Golyadkin’s painful progress, he would certainly have said that Mr. Golyadkin looked as though he wanted to hide from himself, as though he were trying to run away from himself! Yes! It was really so. One may say more: Mr. Golyadkin did not want only to run away from himself, but to be obliterated, to cease to be, to return to dust. At the moment he took in nothing surrounding him, understood nothing of what was going on about him, and looked as though the miseries of the stormy night, of the long tramp, the rain, the snow, the wind, all the cruelty of the weather, did not exist for him. The golosh slipping off the boot on Mr. Golyadkin’s right foot was left behind in the snow and slush on the pavement of Fontanka, and Mr. Golyadkin did not think of turning back to get it, did not, in fact, notice that he had lost it. He was so perplexed that, in spite of everything surrounding him, he stood several times stock still in the middle of the pavement, completely possessed by the thought of his recent horrible humiliation; at that instant he was dying, disappearing; then he suddenly set off again like mad and ran and ran without looking back, as though he were pursued, as though he were fleeing from some still more awful calamity… . The position was truly awful! … At last Mr. Golyadkin halted in exhaustion, leaned on the railing in the attitude of a man whose nose has suddenly begun to bleed, and began looking intently at the black and troubled waters of the canal. All that is known is that at that instant Mr. Golyadkin reached such a pitch of despair, was so harassed, so tortured, so exhausted, and so weakened in what feeble faculties were left him that he forgot everything, forgot the Ismailovsky Bridge, forgot Shestilavotchny Street, forgot his present plight … After all, what did it matter to him? The thing was done. The decision was affirmed and ratified; what could he do? All at once … all at once he started and involuntarily skipped a couple of paces aside. With unaccountable uneasiness he bean gazing about him; but no one was there, nothing special had happened, and yet … and yet he fancied that just now, that very minute, some one was standing near him, beside him, also leaning on the railing, and - marvellous to relate! - had even said something to him, said something quickly, abruptly, not quite intelligibly, but something quite private, something concerning himself.

“Why, was it my fancy?” said Mr. Golyadkin, looking round once more. “But where am I standing? … Ech, ech,” he thought finally, shaking his head, though he began gazing with an uneasy, miserable feeling into the damp, murky distance, straining his sight and doing his utmost to pierce with his short-sighted eyes the wet darkness that stretched all round him. There was nothing new, however, nothing special caught the eye of Mr. Golyadkin. Everything seemed to be all right, as it should be, that is, the snow was falling more violently, more thickly and in larger flakes, nothing could be seen twenty paces away, the lamp-posts creaked more shrilly than ever and the wind seemed to intone its melancholy song even more tearfully, more piteously, like an importunate beggar whining for a copper to get a crust of bread. At the same time a new sensation took possession of Mr. Golyadkin’s whole being: agony upon agony, terror upon terror … a feverish tremor ran through his veins. The moment was insufferably unpleasant! “Well, no matter; perhaps it’s no matter at all, and there’s no stain on any one’s honour. Perhaps it’s as it should be,” he went on, without understanding what he was saying. “Perhaps it will al be for the best in the end, and there will be nothing to complain of, and every one will be justified.”

Talking like this and comforting himself with words, Mr. Golyadkin shook himself a little, shook off the snow which had drifted in thick layers on his hat, his collar, his overcoat, his tie, his boots and everything - but his strange feeling, his strange obscure misery he could not get rid of, could not shake off. Somewhere in the distance there was the boom of a cannon shot. “Ach, what weather!” thought our hero. “Tchoo! isn’t there going to be a flood? It seems as though the water has risen so violently.”

Mr. Golyadkin had hardly said or thought this when he saw a person coming towards him, belated, no doubt, like him, through some accident. An unimportant, casual incident, one might suppose, but for some unknown reason Mr. Golyadkin was troubled, even scared, and rather flurried. It was not that he was exactly afraid of some ill-intentioned man, but just that “perhaps … after all, who knows, this belated individual,” flashed through Mr. Golyadkin’s mind, “maybe he’s that very thing, maybe he’s the very principal thing in it, and isn’t here for nothing, but is here with an object, crossing my path and provoking me.” Possibly, however, he did not think this precisely, but only had a passing feeling of something like it - and very unpleasant. There was no time, however, for thinking and feeling. The stranger was already within two paces. Mr. Golyadkin, as he invariably did, hastened to assume a quite peculiar air, an air that expressed clearly that he, Golyadkin, kept himself to himself, that he was “all right,” that the road was wide enough for all, and that he, Golyadkin, was not interfering with any one. Suddenly he stopped short as though petrified, as though struck by lightning, and quickly turned round after the figure which had only just passed him - turned as though some one had given him a tug from behind, as though the wind had turned him like a weathercock. The passer-by vanished quickly in the snowstorm. He, too, walked quickly; he was dressed like Mr. Golyadkin and, like him, too, wrapped up from head to foot, and he, too, tripped and trotted along the pavement of Fontanka with rapid little steps that suggested that he was a little scared.

“What - what is it?” whispered Mr. Golyadkin, smiling mistrustfully, though he trembled all over. An icy shiver ran down his back. Meanwhile, the stranger had vanished completely; there was no sound of his step, while Mr. Golyadkin still stood and gazed after him. At last, however, he gradually came to himself.

“Why, what’s the meaning of it?” he thought with vexation. “Why, have I really gone out of my mind, or what?” He turned and went on his way, making his footsteps more rapid and frequent, and doing his best not to think of anything at all. He even closed his eyes at last with the same object. Suddenly, through the howling of the wind and the uproar of the storm, the sound of steps very close at hand reached his ears again. He started and opened his eyes. Again a rapidly approaching figure stood out black before him, some twenty paces away. This little figure was hastening, tripping along, hurrying nervously; the distance between them grew rapidly less. Mr. Golyadkin could by now get a full view of the second belated companion. He looked full at him and cried out with amazement and horror; his legs gave way under him. It was the same individual who had passed him ten minutes before, and who now quite unexpectedly turned up facing him again. But this was not the only marvel that struck Mr. Golyadkin. He was so amazed that he stood still, cried out, tried to say something, and rushed to overtake the stranger, even shouted something to him, probably anxious to stop him as quickly as possible. The stranger did, in fact, stop ten paces from Mr. Golyadkin, so that the light from the lamp-post that stood near fell full upon his whole figure - stood still, turned to Mr. Golyadkin, and with impatient and anxious face waited to hear what he would say.

“Excuse me, possibly I’m mistaken,” our hero brought out in a quavering voice.

The stranger in silence, and with an air of annoyance, turned and rapidly went on his way, as though in haste to make up for the two seconds he had wasted on Mr. Golyadkin. As for the latter, he was quivering in every nerve, his knees shook and gave way under him, and with a moan he squatted on a stone at the edge of the pavement. There really was reason, however, for his being so overwhelmed. The fact is that this stranger seemed to him somehow familiar. That would have been nothing, though. But he recognised, almost certainly recognised this man. He had often seen him, that man, had seen him some time, and very lately too; where could it have been? Surely not yesterday? But, again, that was not the chief thing that Mr. Golyadkin had often seen him before; there was hardly anything special about the man; the man at first sight would not have aroused any special attention. He was just a man like any one else, a gentleman like all other gentlemen, of course, and perhaps he had some good qualities and very valuable one too - in fact, he was a man who was quite himself. Mr. Golyadkin cherished no sort of hatred or enmity, not even the slightest hostility towards this man - quite the contrary, it would seem, indeed - and yet (and this was the real point) he would not for any treasure on earth have been willing to meet that man, and especially to meet him as he had done now, for instance. We may say more: Mr. Golyadkin knew that man perfectly well: he even knew what he was called, what his name was; and yet nothing would have induced him, and again, for no treasure on earth would he have consented to name him, to consent to acknowledge that he was called so-and-so, that his father’s name was this and his surname was that. Whether Mr. Golyadkin’s stupefaction lasted a short time or a long time, whether he was sitting for a long time on the stone of the pavement I cannot say; but, recovering himself a little at last, he suddenly fall to running, without looking round, as fast as his legs could carry him; his mind was preoccupied, twice he stumbled and almost fell - and through this circumstance his other boot was also bereaved of its golosh. At last Mr. Golyadkin slackened his pace a little to get breath, looked hurriedly round and saw that he had already, without being aware of it, run passed part of the Nevsky Prospect and was now standing at the turning into Liteyny Street. Mr. Golyadkin turned into Liteyny Street. His position at that instant was like that of a man standing at the edge of a fearful precipice, while the earth is bursting open under him, is already shaking, moving, rocking for the last time, falling, drawing him into the abyss, and yet, the luckless wretch has not the strength, nor the resolution, to leap back, to avert his eyes from the yawning gulf below; the abyss draws him and at last he leaps into it of himself, himself hastening the moment of destruction. Mr. Golyadkin knew, felt and was firmly convinced that some other evil would certainly befall him on the way, that some unpleasantness would overtake him, that he would, for instance, meet his stranger once more: but - strange to say, he positively desired this meeting, considered it inevitable, and all he asked was that it might all be quickly over, that he should be relieved from his position in one way or another, but as soon as possible. And meanwhile he ran on and on, as though moved by some external force, for he felt a weakness and numbness in his whole being: he could not think of anything, though his thoughts caught at everything like brambles. A little lost dog, soaked and shivering, attached itself to Mr. Golyadkin, and ran beside him, scurrying along with tail and ears drooping, looking at him from time to time with timid comprehension. Some remote, long-forgotten idea - some memory of something that had happened long ago - came back into his mind now, kept knocking at his brain as with a hammer, vexing him and refusing to be shaken off.

“Ech, that horrid little cur!” whispered Mr. Golyadkin, not understanding himself.

At last he saw his stranger at the turning into Italyansky Street. But this time the stranger was not coming to meet him, but was running in the same direction as he was, and he, too, was running, a few steps in front. At last they turned into Shestilavotchny Street.

Mr. Golyadkin caught his breath. The stranger stopped exactly before the house in which Mr. Golyadkin lodged. He heard a ring at the bell and almost at the same time the grating of the iron bolt. The gate opened, the stranger stooped, darted in and disappeared. Almost at the same instant Mr. Golyadkin reached the spot and like an arrow flew in at the gate. Heedless of the grumbling porter, he ran, gasping for breath, into the yard, and immediately saw his interesting companion, whom he had lost sight of for a moment.

The stranger darted towards the staircase which led to Mr. Golyadkin’s flat. Mr. Golyadkin rushed after him. The stairs were dark, damp and dirt. At every turning there were heaped-up masses of refuse from the flats, so that any unaccustomed stranger who found himself on the stairs in the dark was forced to travel to and fro for half an hour in danger of breaking his legs, cursing the stairs as well as the friends who lived in such an inconvenient place. But Mr. Golyadkin’s companion seemed as though familiar with it, as though at home; he ran up lightly, without difficulty, showing a perfect knowledge of his surroundings. Mr. Golyadkin had almost caught him up; in fact, once or twice the stranger’s coat flicked him on the nose. His heart stood still. The stranger stopped before the door of Mr. Golyadkin’s flat, knocked on it, and (which would, however, have surprised Mr. Golyadkin at any other time) Petrushka, as though he had been sitting up in expectation, opened the door at once and, with a candle in his hand, followed the strange as the latter went in. The hero of our story dashed into his lodging beside himself; without taking off his hat or coat he crossed the little passage and stood still in the doorway of his room, as though thunderstruck. All his presentiments had come true. All that he had dreaded and surmised was coming to pass in reality. His breath failed him, his head was in a whirl. The stranger, also in his coat and hat, was sitting before him on his bed, and with a faint smile, screwing up his eyes, nodded to him in a friendly way. Mr. Golyadkin wanted to scream, but could not - to protest in some way, but his strength failed him. His hair stood on end, and he almost fell down with horror. And, indeed, there was good reason. He recognised his nocturnal visitor. The nocturnal visitor was no other than himself - Mr. Golyadkin himself, another Mr. Golyadkin, but absolutely the same as himself - in fact, what is called a double in every respect… .

Chapter 7

At eight o’clock next morning Mr. Golyadkin woke up in his bed. At once all the extraordinary incidents of the previous day and the wild, incredible night, with all its almost impossible adventures, presented themselves to his imagination and memory with terrifying vividness. Such intense, diabolical malice on the part of his enemies, and, above all, the final proof of that malice, froze Mr. Golyadkin’s heart. But at the same time it was all so strange, incomprehensible, wild, it seemed so impossible, that it was really hard to credit the whole business; Mr. Golyadkin was, indeed, ready to admit himself that it was all an incredible delusion, a passing aberration of the fancy, a darkening of the mind, if he had not fortunately known by bitter experience to what lengths spite will sometimes carry any one, what a pitch of ferocity an enemy may reach when he is bent on revenging his honour and prestige. Besides, Mr. Golyadkin’s exhausted limbs, his heavy head, his aching back, and the malignant cold in his head bore vivid witness to the probability of his expedition of the previous night and upheld the reality of it, and to some extent of all that had happened during that expedition. And, indeed, Mr. Golyadkin had known long, long before that something was being got up among them, that there was some one else with them. But after all, thinking it over thoroughly, he made up his mind to keep quiet, to submit and not to protest for the time.

“They are simply plotting to frighten me, perhaps, and when they see that I don’t mind, that I make no protest, but keep perfectly quiet and put up with it meekly, they’ll give it up, they’ll give it up of themselves, give it up of their own accord.”

Such, then, were the thoughts in the mind of Mr. Golyadkin as, stretching in his bed, trying to rest his exhausted limbs, he waited for Petrushka to come into his room as usual … He waited for a full quarter of an hour. He heard the lazy scamp fiddling about with the samovar behind the screen, and yet he could not bring himself to call him. We may say more: Mr. Golyadkin was a little afraid of confronting Petrushka.

“Why, goodness knows,” he thought, “goodness knows how that rascal looks at it all. He keeps on saying nothing, but he has his own ideas.”

At last the door creaked and Petrushka came in with a tray in his hands. Mr. Golyadkin stole a timid glance at him, impatiently waiting to see what would happen, waiting to see whether he would not say something about a certain circumstance. But Petrushka said nothing; he was, on the contrary, more silent, more glum and ill-humoured than usual; he looked askance from under his brows at everything; altogether it was evident that he was very much put out about something; he did not even once glance at his master, which, by the way, rather piqued the latter. Setting all he had brought on the table, he turned and went out of the room without a word.

“He knows, he knows, he knows all about it, the scoundrel!” Mr. Golyadkin grumbled to himself as he took his tea. Yet out hero did not address a single question to his servant, though Petrushka came into his room several times afterwards on various errands. Mr. Golyadkin was in great trepidation of spirit. He dreaded going to the office. He had a strong presentiment that there he would find something that would not be “just so.”

“You may be sure,” he thought, “that as soon as you go you will light upon something! Isn’t it better to endure in patience? Isn’t it better to wait a bit now? Let them do what they like there; but I’d better stay here a bit today, recover my strength, get better, and think over the whole affair more thoroughly, then afterwards I could seize the right moment, fall upon them like snow from the sky, and get off scot free myself.”

Reasoning like this, Mr. Golyadkin smoked pipe after pipe; time was flying. It was already nearly half-past nine.

“Why, it’s half-past nine already,” thought Mr. Golyadkin; “it’s late for me to make my appearance. Besides, I’m ill, of course I’m ill, I’m certainly ill; who denies it? What’s the matter with me? If they send to make inquiries, let the executive clerk come; and, indeed, what is the mater with me really? Mr back aches, I have a cough, and a cold in my head; and, in fact, it’s out of the question for me to go out, utterly out of the question in such weather. I might be taken ill and, very likely, die; nowadays especially the death-rate is so high …”

With such reasoning Mr. Golyadkin succeeded at last in setting his conscience at rest, and defended himself against the reprimands he expected from Andrey Filippovitch for neglect of his duty. As a rule in such cases our hero was particularly fond of justifying himself in his own eyes with all sorts of irrefutable arguments, and so completely setting his conscience at rest. And so now, having completely soothed his conscience, he took up his pipe, filled it, and had no sooner settled down comfortably to smoke, when he jumped up quickly from the sofa, flung away the pipe, briskly washed, shaved, and brushed his hair, got into his uniform and so on, snatched up some papers, and flew to the office.

Mr. Golyadkin went into his department timidly, in quivering expectation of something unpleasant - an expectation which was none the less disagreeable for being vague and unconscious; he sat timidly down in his invariable place next the head clerk, Anton Antonovitch Syetotchkin. Without looking at anything or allowing his attention to be distracted, he plunged into the contents of the papers that lay before him. He made up his mind and vowed to himself to avoid, as far as possible, anything provocative, anything that might compromise him, such as indiscreet questions, jests, or unseemly allusions to any incidents of the previous evening; he made up his mind also to abstain from the usual interchange of civilities with his colleagues, such as inquiries after health and such like. But evidently it was impossible, out of the question, to keep to this. Anxiety and uneasiness in regard to anything near him that was annoying always worried him far more than the annoyance itself. And that was why, in spite of his inward vows to refrain from entering into anything, whatever happened, and to keep aloof from everything, Mr. Golyadkin from time to time, on the sly, very, very quietly, raised his head and stealthily looked about him to right and to left, peeped at the countenances of his colleagues, and tried to gather whether there were not something new and particular in them referring to himself and with sinister motives concealed from him. He assumed that there must be a connection between all that had happened yesterday and all that surrounded him now. At last, in his misery, he began to long for something - goodness knows what - to happen to put an end to it - even some calamity - he did not care. At this point destiny caught Mr. Golyadkin: he had hardly felt this desire when his doubts were solved in the strange and most unexpected manner.

The door leading from the next room suddenly gave a soft and timid creak, as though to indicate that the person about to enter was a very unimportant one, and a figure, very familiar to Mr. Golyadkin, stood shyly before the very table at which our hero was seated. The latter did not raise his head - no, he only stole a glance at him, the tiniest glance; but he knew all, he understood all, to every detail. He grew hot with shame, and buried his devoted head in his papers with precisely the same object with which the ostrich, pursued by hunters, hides his head in the burning sand. The new arrival bowed to Andrey Filippovitch, and thereupon he heard a voice speaking in the regulation tone of condescending tone of politeness with which all persons in authority address their subordinates in public offices.

“Take a seat here.” said Andrey Filippovitch, motioning the newcomer to Anton Antonovitch’s table. “Here, opposite Mr. Golyadkin, and we’ll soon give you something to do.”

Andrey Filippovitch ended by making a rapid gesture that decorously admonished the newcomer of his duty, and then he immediately became engrossed in the study of the papers that lay in a heap before him.

Mr. Golyadkin lifted his eyes at last, and that he did not fall into a swoon was simply because he had foreseen it all from the first, that he had been forewarned from the first, guessing in his soul who the stranger was. Mr. Golyadkin’s first movement was to look quickly about him, to see whether there were any whispering, any office joke being cracked on the subject, whether any one’s face was agape with wonder, whether, indeed, some one had not fallen under the table from terror. But to his intense astonishment there was no sign of anything of the sort. The behaviour of his colleagues and companions surprised him. It seemed contrary to the dictates of common sense. Mr. Golyadkin was positively scared at this extraordinary reticent. The fact spoke for itself; it was a strange, horrible, uncanny thing. It was enough to rouse any one. All this, of course, only passed rapidly through Mr. Golyadkin’s mind. He felt as though he were burning in a slow fire. And, indeed, there was enough to make him. The figure that was sitting opposite Mr. Golyadkin now was his terror, was his shame, was him nightmare of the evening before; in short, was Mr. Golyadkin himself, not the Mr. Golyadkin who was sitting now in his chair with his mouth wide open and his pen petrified in his hand, not the one who acred as assistant to his chief, not the one who liked to efface himself and slink away in the crowd, not the one whose deportment plainly said, “Don’t touch me and I won’t touch you,” or, “Don’t interfere with me, you see I’m not touching you”; no, this was another Mr. Golyadkin, quite different, yet at the same time, exactly like the first - the same height, the same figure, the same clothes, the same baldness; in fact, nothing, absolutely nothing, was lacking to complete the likeness, so that if one were to set them side by side, nobody, absolutely nobody, could have undertaken to distinguish which was the real Mr. Golyadkin and which was the new one, which was the original and which was the copy.

Our hero was - if the comparison can be made - in the position of a man upon whom some practical joker has stealthily, by way of jest, turned a burning glass.

“What does it mean? Is it a dream?” he wondered. “Is it reality or the continuation of what happened yesterday? And besides, by what right is this all being done? Who sanctioned such a clerk, who authorized this? Am I asleep, am I in a waking dream?”

Mr. Golyadkin tried pinching himself, even tried to screw up his courage to pinch some one else … No, it was not a dream and that was all about it. Mr. Golyadkin felt that the sweat was trickling down him in big drops; he felt that what was happening to him was something incredible, unheard of, and for that very reason was, to complete his misery, utterly unseemly, for Mr. Golyadkin realized and felt how disadvantageous it was to be the first example of such a burlesque adventure. He even began to doubt his own existence, and though he was prepared for anything and had been longing for his doubts to be settled in any way whatever, yet the actual reality was startling in its unexpectedness. His misery was poignant and overwhelming. At times he lost all power of thought and memory. Coming to himself after such a moment, he noticed that he was mechanically and unconsciously moving the pen over the paper. Mistrustful of himself, he began going over what he had written - and could make nothing of it. At last the other Mr. Golyadkin, who had been sitting discreetly and decorously at the table, got up and disappeared through the door into the other room. Mr. Golyadkin looked around - everything was quiet; he heard nothing but the scratching of pens, the rustle of turning over pages, and conversation in the corners furthest from Andrey Filippovitch’s seat. Mr. Golyadkin looked at Anton Antonovitch, and as, in all probability, our hero’s countenance fully reflected his real condition and harmonized with the whole position, and was consequently, from one point of view, very remarkable, good-natured Anton Antonovitch, laying aside his pen, inquired after his health with marked sympathy.

“I’m very well, thank God, Anton Antonovitch,” said Mr. Golyadkin, stammering. “I am perfectly well, Anton Antonovitch. I am all right now, Anton Antonovitch,” he added uncertainly, not yet fully trusting Anton Antonovitch, whose name he had mentioned so often.

“I fancied you were not quite well: though that’s not to be wondered at; no, indeed! Nowadays especially there’s such a lot of illness going about. Do you know …”

“Yes, Anton Antonovitch, I know there is such a lot of illness … I did not mean that, Anton Antonovitch,” Mr. Golyadkin went on, looking intently at Anton Antonovitch. “You see, Anton Antonovitch, I don’t even know how you, that is, I mean to say, how to approach this matter, Anton Antonovitch… .”

“How so? I really … do you know … I must confess I don’t quite understand; you must … you must explain, you know, in what way you are in difficulties,” said Anton Antonovitch, beginning to be in difficulties himself, seeing that there were actually tears in Mr. Golyadkin’s eyes.

“Really, Anton Antonovitch … I … here … there’s a clerk here, Anton Antonovitch …”

“Well! I don’t understand now.”

“I mean to say, Anton Antonovitch, there’s a new clerk here.”

“Yes, there is; a namesake of yours.”

“What?” cried Mr. Golyadkin.

“I say a namesake of yours; his name’s Golyadkin too. Isn’t he a brother of yours?”

“No, Anton Antonovitch, I …”

“H’m! you don’t say so! Why, I thought he must be a relation of yours. Do you know, there’s a sort of family likeness.”

Mr. Golyadkin was petrified with astonishment, and for the moment he could not speak. To treat so lightly such a horrible, unheard-of thing, a thing undeniably rare and curious in its way, a thing which would have amazed even an unconcerned spectator, to talk of a family resemblance when he could see himself as in a looking-glass!

“Do you know, Yakov Petrovitch, what I advise you to do?” Anton Antonovitch went on. “Go and consult a doctor. Do you know, you look somehow quite unwell. You eyes look peculiar … you know, there’s a peculiar expression in them.”

“No, Anton Antonovitch, I feel, of course … that is, I keep wanting to ask about this clerk.”


“That is, have not you noticed, Anton Antonovitch, something peculiar about him, something very marked?”

“That is … ?”

“That is, I mean, Anton Antonovitch, a striking likeness with somebody, for instance; with me, for instance? You spoke just now, you see, Anton Antonovitch, of a family likeness. You let slip the remark… . You know there really are sometimes twins exactly alike, like two drops of water, so that they can’t be told apart. Well, it’s that that I mean.”

“To be sure,” said Anton Antonovitch, after a moment’s thought, speaking as though he were struck by the fact for the first time: “yes, indeed! You are right, there is a striking likeness, and you are quite right in what you say. You really might be mistaken for one another,” he went on, opening his eyes wider and wider; “and, do you know, Yakov Petrovitch, it’s positively a marvellous likeness, fantastic, in fact, as the saying is; that is, just as you … Have you observed, Yakov Petrovitch? I wanted to ask you to explain it; yes, I must confess I didn’t take particular notice at first. It’s wonderful, it’s really wonderful! And, you know, you are not a native of these parts, are you, Yakov Petrovitch?”


“He is not from these parts, you know, either. Perhaps he comes from the same part of the country as you do. Where, may I make bold to inquire, did your mother live for the most part?”

“You said … you say, Anton Antonovitch, that he is not a native of these parts?”

“No, he is not. And indeed how strange it is!” continued the talkative Anton Antonovitch, for whom it was a genuine treat to gossip. “It may well arouse curiosity; and yet, you know, you might pass him by, brush against him, without noticing anything. But you mustn’t be upset about it. It’s a thing that does happen. Do you know, the same thing, I must tell you, happened to my aunt on my mother’s side; she saw her own double before her death …”

“No, I - excuse me for interrupting you, Anton Antonovitch - I wanted to find out, Anton Antonovitch, how that clerk … that is, on what footing is he here?”

“In the place of Semyon Ivanovitch, to fill the vacancy left by his death; the post was vacant, so he was appointed. Do you know, I’m told poor Semyon Ivanovitch left three children, all tiny dots. The widow fell at the feet of his Excellency. They do say she’s hiding something; she’s got a bit of money, but she’s hiding it.”

“No, Anton Antonovitch, I was still referring to that circumstance.”

“You mean …? To be sure! But why are you so interested in that? I tell you not to upset yourself. All this is temporary to some extent. Why, after all, you know, you have nothing to do with it. So it has been ordained by God Almighty, it’s His will, and it is sinful repining. His wisdom is apparent in it. And as far as I can make out, Yakov Petrovitch, you are not to blame in any way. There are all sorts of strange things in the world! Mother Nature is liberal with her gifts, and you are not called upon to answer for it, you won’t be responsible. Here, for instance, you have heard, I expect, of those - what’s their name? - oh, the Siamese twins who are joined together at the back, live and eat and sleep together. I’m told they get a lot of money.”

“Allow me, Anton Antonovitch …”

“I understand, I understand! Yes! But what of it? It’s no matter, I tell you, ad far as I can see there’s nothing for you to upset yourself about. After all, he’s a clerk - as a clerk he seems to be a capable man. He says his name is Golyadkin, that he’s not a native of this district, and that he’s a titular councillor. He had a personal interview with his Excellency.”

“And how did his Excellency …?”

“It was all right; I am told he gave a satisfactory account of himself, gave his reasons, said, ‘It’s like this, your Excellency,’ and that he was without means and anxious to enter the service, and would be particularly flattered to be serving under his Excellency … all that was proper, you know; he expressed himself neatly. He must be a sensible man. But of course he came with a recommendation; he couldn’t have got in without that …”

“Oh, from whom … that is, I mean, who is it has had a hand in this shameful business?”

“Yes, a good recommendation, I’m told; his Excellency, I’m told laughed with Andrey Filippovitch.”

“Laughed with Andrey Filippovitch?”

“Yes, he only just smiled and said that it was all right, and that he had nothing against it, so long as he did his duty …”

“Well, and what more? You relieve me to some extent, Anton Antonovitch; go on, I entreat you.”

“Excuse me, I must tell you again … Well, then, come, it’s nothing, it’s a very simple matter; you mustn’t upset yourself, I tell you, and there’s nothing suspicious about it… .”

“No. I … that is, Anton Antonovitch, I want to ask you, didn’t his Excellency say anything more …about me, for instance?”

“Well! To be sure! No, nothing of the sort; you can set your mind quite at rest. You know it is, of course, a rather striking circumstance, and at first …why, here, I, for instance, I scarcely noticed it. I really don’t know why I didn’t notice it till you mentioned it. But you can set your mind at rest entirely. He said nothing particular, absolutely nothing,” added good-natured Anton Antonovitch, getting up from his chair.

“So then, Anton, Antonovitch, I …”

“Oh, you must excuse me. Here I’ve been gossiping about these trivial matters, and I’ve business that is important and urgent. I must inquire about it.”

“Anton Antonovitch!” Andrey Filippovitch’s voice sounded, summoning him politely, “his Excellency has been asking for you.”

“This minute, I’m coming this minute, Andrey Filippovitch.” And Anton Antonovitch, taking a pile of papers, flew off first to Andrey Filippovitch and then into his Excellency’s room.

“Then what is the meaning of it?” thought Mr. Golyadkin. “Is there some sort of game going on? So the wind’s in that quarter now … That’s just as well; so things have taken a much pleasanter turn,” our hero said to himself, rubbing his hands, and so delighted that he scarcely knew where he was. “So our position is an ordinary thing. So it turns out to be all nonsense, it comes to nothing at all. No one has done anything really, and they are not budging, the rascals, they are sitting busy over their work; that’s splendid, splendid! I like the good-natured fellow, I’ve always liked him, and I’m always ready to respect him … though it must be said one doesn’t know what to think; this Anton Antonovitch … I’m afraid to trust him; his hair’s grey, and he’s getting shaky. It’s an immense and glorious thing that his Excellency said nothing, and let it pass! It’s a good thing! I approve! Only why does Andrey Filippovitch interfere with his grins? What’s he got to do with it? The old rogue. Always on my track, always, like a black cat, on the watch to run across a man’s path, always thwarting and annoying a man, always annoying and thwarting a man …”

Mr. Golyadkin looked around him again, and again his hopes revived. Yet he felt that he was troubled by one remote idea, an unpleasant idea. It even occurred to him that he might try somehow to make up to the clerks, to be the first in the field even (perhaps when leaving the office or going up to them as though about his work), to drop a hint in the course of conversation, saying, “This is how it is, what a striking likeness, gentlemen, a strange circumstance, a burlesque farce!” - that is, treat it all lightly, and in this way sound the depth of the danger. “Devils breed in still waters,” our hero concluded inwardly.

Mr. Golyadkin, however, only contemplated this; he thought better of it in time. He realized that this would be going too far. “That’s your temperament,” he said to himself, tapping himself lightly on the forehead; “as soon as you gain anything you are delighted! You’re a simple soul! No, you and I had better be patient, Yakov Petrovitch; let us wait and be patient!”

Nevertheless, as we have mentioned already, Mr. Golyadkin was buoyed up with the most confident hopes, feeling as though he had risen from the dead.

“No matter,” he thought, “it’s as though a hundred tons had been lifted off my chest! Here is a circumstance, to be sure! The box has been opened by the lid. Krylov is right, a clever chap, a rogue, that Krylov, and a great fable-write! And as for him, let him work in the office, and good luck to him so long as he doesn’t meddle or interfere with any one; let him work in the office - I consent and approve!”

Meanwhile the hours were passing, flying by, and before he noticed the time it struck four. The office was closed. Andrey Filippovitch took his hat, and all followed his example in due course. Mr. Golyadkin dawdled a little on purpose, long enough to be the last to go out when all the others had gone their several ways. Going out from the street he felt as though he were in Paradise, so that he even felt inclined to go a longer way round, and to walk along the Nevsky Prospect.

“To be sure this is destiny,” thought our hero, “this unexpected turn in affairs. And the weather’s more cheerful, and the frost and the little sledges. And the frost suits the Russian, the Russian gets on capitally with the frost. I like the Russian. And the dear little snow, and the first few flakes in autumn; the sportsman would say, ‘It would be nice to go shooting hares in the first snow.’ Well, there, it doesn’t matter.”

This was how Mr. Golyadkin’s enthusiasm found expression. Yet something was fretting in his brain, not exactly melancholy, but at times he had such a gnawing at his heart that he did not know how to find relief.

“Let us wait for the day, though, and then we shall rejoice. And, after all, you know, what does it matter? Come, let us think it over, let us look at it. Come, let us consider it, my young friend, let us consider it. Why, a man’s exactly like you in the first place, absolutely the same. Well, what is there in that? If there is such a man, why should I weep over it? What is it to me? I stand aside, I whistle to myself, and that’s all! That’s what I laid myself open to, and that’s all about it! Let him work in the office! Well, it’s strange and marvellous, they say, that the Siamese twins … But why bring in Siamese twins? They are twins, of course, but even great men, you know, sometimes look queer creatures. In fact, we know from history that the famous Suvorov used to crow like a cock … But there, he did all that with political motives; and he was a great general …but what are generals, after all? But I keep myself to myself, that’s all, and I don’t care about any one else, and, secure in my innocence, I scorn my enemies. I am not one to intrigue, and I’m proud of it. Gentle, straightforward, neat and nice, meek and mild.”

All at once Mr. Golyadkin broke off, his tongue failed him and he began trembling like a leaf; he even closed his eyes for a minute. Hoping, however, that the object of his terror was only an illusion, he opened his eyes at last and stole a timid glance to the right. No, it was not an illusion! … His acquaintance of that morning was tripping along by his side, smiling, peeping into his face, and apparently seeking an opportunity to begin a conversation with him. The conversation was not begun, however. They both walked like this for about fifty paces. All Mr. Golyadkin’s efforts were concentrated on muffling himself up, hiding himself in his coat and pulling his hat down as far as possible over his eyes. To complete his mortification, his companion’s coat and hat looked as though they had been taken off Mr. Golyadkin himself.

“Sir,” our hero articulated at last, trying to speak almost in a whisper, and not looking at his companion, “we are going different ways, I believe … I am convinced of it, in fact,” he said, after a pause. “I am convinced, indeed, that you quite understand me,” he added, rather severely, in conclusion.

“I could have wished …” his companion pronounced at last, “I could have wished … no doubt you will be magnanimous and pardon me … I don’t know to whom to address myself here … my circumstances … I trust you will pardon my intrusiveness. I fancied, indeed, that, moved by compassion, you showed some interest in me this morning. On my side, I felt drawn to you from the first moment. I …”

At this point Mr. Golyadkin inwardly wished that his companion might sink into the earth.

“If I might venture to hope that you would accord me an indulgent hearing, Yakov Petrovitch …”

“We - here, we - we … you had better come home with me,” answered Mr. Golyadkin. “We will cross now to the other side of the Nevsky Prospect, it will be more convenient for us there, and then by the little back street … we’d better go by the back street.”

“Very well, by all means let us go by the back street,” our hero’s meek companion responded timidly, suggesting by the tone of his reply that it was not for him to choose, and that in his position he was quite prepared to accept the back street. As for Mr. Golyadkin, he was utterly unable to grasp what was happening to him. He could not believe in himself. He could not get over his amazement.

Chapter 8

He recovered himself a little on the staircase as he went up to his flat.

“Oh, I’m a sheep’s head,” he railed at himself inwardly. “Where am I taking him? I am thrusting my head into the noose. What will Petrushka think, seeing us together? What will the scoundrel dare to imagine now? He’s suspicious …”

But it was too late to regret it. Mr. Golyadkin knocked at the door; it was opened, and Petrushka began taking off the visitor’s coat as well as his master’s. Mr. Golyadkin looked askance, just stealing a glance at Petrushka, trying to read his countenance and divine what he was thinking. But to his intense astonishment he saw that his servant showed no trace of surprise, but seemed, on the contrary, to be expected something of the sort. Of course he did not look morose, as it was; he kept his eyes turned away and looked as though he would like to fall upon somebody.

“Hasn’t somebody bewitched them all today?” thought our hero. “Some devil must have got round them. There certainly must be something peculiar in the whole lot of them today. Damn it all, what a worry it is!”

Such were Mr. Golyadkin’s thoughts and reflections as he led his visitor into his room and politely asked him to sit down. The visitor appeared to be greatly embarrassed, he was very shy, and humbly watched every movement his host made, caught his glance, and seemed trying to divine his thoughts from them. There was a downtrodden, crushed, scared look about all his gestures, so that - if the comparison may be allowed - he was at that moment rather like the man who, having lost his clothes, is dressed up in somebody else’s: the sleeves work up to the elbows, the waist is almost up to his neck, and he keeps every minute pulling down the short waistcoat; he wriggles sideways and turns away, tries to hide himself, or peeps into every face, and listens whether people are talking of his position, laughing at him or putting him to shame - and he is crimson with shame and overwhelmed with confusion and wounded vanity… . Mr. Golyadkin put down his hat in the window, and carelessly sent it flying to the floor. The visitor darted at once to pick it up, brushed off the dust, and carefully put it back, while he laid his own on the floor near a chair, on the edge of which he meekly seated himself. This little circumstance did something to open Mr. Golyadkin’s eyes; he realized that the man was in great straits, and so did not put himself out for his visitor as he had done at first, very properly leaving all that to the man himself. The visitor, for his part, did nothing either; whether he was shy, a little ashamed, or from politeness was waiting for his host to begin is not certain and would be difficult to determine. At that moment Petrushka came in; he stood still in the doorway, and fixed his eyes in the direction furthest from where the visitor and his master were seated.

“Shall I bring in dinner for two?” he said carelessly, in a husky voice.

“I - I don’t know … you … yes, bring dinner for two, my boy.”

Petrushka went out. Mr. Golyadkin glanced at his visitor. The latter crimsoned to his ears. Mr. Golyadkin was a kind-hearted man, and so in the kindness of his heart he at once elaborated a theory.

“The fellow’s hard up,” he thought. “Yes, and in his situation only one day. Most likely he’s suffered in his time. Maybe his good clothes are all that he has, and nothing to get him a dinner. Ah, poor fellow, how crushed he seems! But no matter; in a way it’s better so… . Excuse me,” began Mr. Golyadkin, “allow me to ask what I may call you.”

“I … I … I’m Yakov Petrovitch,” his visitor almost whispered, as though conscience-stricken and ashamed, as though apologizing for being called Yakov Petrovitch too.

“Yakov Petrovitch!” repeated our visitor, unable to conceal his confusion.

“Yes, just so… . The same name as yours,” responded the meek visitor, venturing to smile and speak a little jocosely. But at once he drew back, assuming a very serious air, though a little disconcerted, noticing that his host was in no joking mood.

“You … allow me to ask you, to what am I indebted for the honour …?”

“Knowing your generosity and your benevolence,” interposed the visitor in a rapid but timid voice, half rising from his seat, “I have ventured to appeal to you and to beg for your … acquaintance and protection …” he concluded, choosing his phrases with difficulty and trying to select words not too flattering or servile, that he might not compromise his dignity and not so bold as to suggest an unseemly equality. In fact, one may say the visitor behaved like a gentlemanly beggar with a darned waistcoat, with an honourable passport in his pocket, who has not yet learnt by practice to hold out his hand properly for alms.

“You perplex me,” answered Mr. Golyadkin, gazing round at himself, his walls and his visitor. “In what could I … that is, I mean, in what way could I be of service to you?”

“I felt drawn to you, Yakov Petrovitch, at first sight, and, graciously forgive me, I built my hopes Yakov Petrovitch. I … I’m in a desperate plight here, Yakov Petrovitch; I’m poor, I’ve had a great deal of trouble, Yakov Petrovitch, and have only recently come here. Learning that you, with your innate goodness and excellence of heart, are of the same name …”

Mr. Golyadkin frowned.

“Of the same name as myself and a native of the same district, I made up my mind to appeal to you, and to make known to you my difficult position.”

“Very good, very good; I really don’t know what to say,” Mr. Golyadkin responded in an embarrassed voice. “We’ll have a talk after dinner …”

The visitor bowed; dinner was brought in. Petrushka laid the table, and Mr. Golyadkin and his visitor proceeded to partake of it. The dinner did not last long, for they were both in a hurry, the host because he felt ill at ease, and was, besides, ashamed that the dinner was a poor one - he was partly ashamed because he wanted to give the visitor a good meal, and partly because he wanted to show him he did not live like a beggar. The visitor, on his side too, was in terrible confusion and extremely embarrassed. When he had finished the piece of bread he had taken, he was afraid to put out his hand to take another piece, was ashamed to help himself to the best morsels, and was continually assuring his host that he was not at all hungry, that the dinner was excellent, that he was absolutely satisfied with it, and should not forget it to his dying day. When the meal was over Mr. Golyadkin lighted his pipe, and offered a second, which was brought in, to his visitor. They sat facing each other, and the visitor began telling his adventures.

Mr. Golyadkin junior’s story lasted for three or four hours. His history was, however, composed of the most trivial and wretched, if one may say so, incidents. It dealt with details of service in some lawcourt in the provinces, of prosecutors and presidents, of some department intrigues, of the depravity of some registration clerks, of an inspector, of the sudden appointment of a new chief in the department, of how the second Mr. Golyadkin had suffered quite without any fault on his part; of his aged aunt, Pelegea Semyonovna; of how, through various intrigues on the part of his enemies, he had lost his situation, and had come to Petersburg on foot; of the harassing and wretched time he had spent here in Petersburg, how for a long time he had tried in vain to get a job, had spent all his money, had nothing left, had been living almost in the street, lived on a crust of bread and washed it down with his tears, slept on the bare floor, and finally how some good Christian had exerted himself on his behalf, had given him an introduction, and had nobly got him into a new berth. Mr. Golyadkin’s visitor shed tears as he told his story, and wiped his eyes with a blue-check handkerchief that looked like oilcloth. He ended by making a clean breast of it to Mr. Golyadkin, and confessing that he was not only for the time without means of subsistence and money for a decent lodging, but had not even the wherewithal to fit himself out properly, so that he had, he said in conclusion, been able to get together enough for a pair of wretched boots, and that he had had to hire a uniform for the time.

Mr. Golyadkin was melted; he was genuinely touched. Even though his visitor’s story was the paltriest story, every word of it was like heavenly manna to his heart. The fact was that Mr. Golyadkin was beginning to forget his last misgivings, to surrender his soul to freedom and rejoicing, and at last mentally dubbed himself a fool. It was all so natural! And what a thing to break his heart over, what a thing to be so distressed about! To be sure there was, there really was, one ticklish circumstance - but, after all, it was not a misfortune; it could be no disgrace to a man, it could not cast a slur on his honour or ruin his career, if he were innocent, since nature herself was mixed up in it. Moreover, the visitor begged for protection, wept, railed at destiny, seemed such an artless, pitiful, insignificant person, with no craft or malice about him, and he seemed now to be ashamed himself, though perhaps on different grounds, of the strange resemblance of his countenance with that of Mr. Golyadkin’s. his behaviour was absolutely unimpeachable; his one desire was to please his host, and he looked as a man looks who feels conscience-stricken and to blame in regard to some one else. If any doubtful point were touched upon, for instance, the visitor at once agreed with Mr. Golyadkin’s opinion. If by mistake he advanced an opinion in opposition to Mr. Golyadkin’s and afterwards noticed that he had made a slip, he immediately corrected his mistake, explained himself and made it clear that he meant the same thing as his host, that he thought as he did and took the same view of everything as he did. In fact, the visitor made every possible effort to “make up to” Mr. Golyadkin, so that the latter made up his mind at last that his visitor must be a very amiable person in every way. Meanwhile, tea was brought in; it was nearly nine o’clock. Mr. Golyadkin felt in a very good-humour, grew lively and skittish, let himself go a little, and finally plunged into a most animated and interesting conversation with his visitor. In his festive moments Mr. Golyadkin was fond of telling interesting anecdotes. So now he told the visitor a great deal about Petersburg, about its entertainments and attractions, about the theatre, the clubs, about Brulov’s picture, and about the two Englishmen who came from England to Petersburg on purpose to look at the iron railing of the Summer Garden, and returned at once when they had seen it; about the office; about Olsufy Ivanovitch and Andrey Filippovitch; about the way that Russia was progressing, was hour by hour progressing towards a state of perfection, so that

“Arts and letters flourish here today”;

about an anecdote he had lately read in the Northern Bee concerning a boa-constrictor in India of immense strength; about Baron Brambeus, and so on. In short, Mr. Golyadkin was quite happy, first, because his mind was at rest, secondly, because, so far from being afraid of his enemies, he was quite prepared now to challenge them all to mortal combat; thirdly, because he was now in the role of patron and was doing a good deed. Yet he was conscious at the bottom of his heart that he was not perfectly happy, that there was still a hidden worm gnawing at his heart, though it was only a tiny one. He was extremely worried by the thought of the previous evening at Olsufy Ivanovitch’s. He would have given a great deal now for nothing to have happened of what took place then.

“It’s no matter, though!” our hero decided at last, and he firmly resolved in his heart to behave well in future and never to be guilty of such pranks again. As Mr. Golyadkin was now completely worked up, and had suddenly become almost blissful, the fancy took him to have a jovial time. Rum was brought in by Petrushka, and punch was prepared. The visitor and his host drained a glass each, and then a second. The visitor appeared even more amiable than before, and gave more than one proof of his frankness and charming character; he entered keenly into Mr. Golyadkin’s joy, seemed only to rejoice in his rejoicing, and to look upon him as his one and only benefactor. Taking up a pen and a sheet of paper, he asked Golyadkin not to look at what he was going to write, but afterwards showed his host what he had written. It turned out to be a verse of four lines, written with a good deal of feeling, in excellent language and handwriting, and evidently was the composition of the amiable visitor himself. the lines were as follows -

“If thou forget me,

I shall not forget thee;

Though all things may be,

Do not thou forget me.” With tears in his eyes Mr. Golyadkin embraced his companion, and, completely overcome by his feelings, he began to initiate his friend into some of his own secrets and private affairs, Andrey Filippovitch and Klara Olsufyevna being prominent in his remarks.

“Well, you may be sure we shall get on together, Yakov Petrovitch,” said our hero to his visitor. “You and I will take to each other like fish to the water, Yakov Petrovitch; we shall be like brothers; we’ll be cunning, my dear fellow, we’ll work together; we’ll get up an intrigue, too, to pay them out. To pay them out we’ll get up an intrigue too. And don’t you trust any of them. I know you, Yakov Petrovitch, and I understand your character; you’ll tell them everything straight out, you know, you’re a guileless soul! You must hold aloof from them all, my boy.”

His companion entirely agreed with him, thanked Mr. Golyadkin, and he, too, grew tearful at last.

“Do you know, Yasha,” Mr. Golyadkin went on in a shaking voice, weak with emotion, “you must stay with me for a time, or stay with me for ever. We shall get on together. What do you say, brother, eh? And don’t you worry or repine because there’s such a strange circumstance about us now; it’s a sin to repine, brother; it’s nature! And Mother Nature is liberal with her gifts, so there, brother Yasha! It’s from love for you that I speak, from brotherly love. But we’ll be cunning, Yasha; we’ll lay a mine, too, and we’ll make them laugh the other side of their mouths.”

They reached their third and fourth glasses of punch at last, and then Mr. Golyadkin began to be aware of two sensations: the one that he was extraordinarily happy, and the other that he could not stand on his legs. The guest was, of course, invited to stay the night. A bed was somehow made up on two chairs. Mr. Golyadkin junior declared that under a friend’s roof the bare floor would be a soft bed, that for his part he could sleep anywhere, humbly and gratefully; that he was in paradise now, that he had been through a great deal of trouble and grief in his time; he had seen ups and downs, had all sorts of things to put up with, and - who could tell what the future would be? - maybe he would have still more to put up with. Mr. Golyadkin senior protested against this, and began to maintain that one must put one’s faith in God. His guest entirely agreed, observing that there was, of course, no one like God. At this point Mr. Golyadkin senior observed that in certain respects the Turks were right in calling upon God even in their sleep. Then, though disagreeing with certain learned professors in the slanders thy had promulgated against the Turkish prophet Mahomet and recognizing him as a great politician in his own line, Mr. Golyadkin passed to a very interesting description of an Algerian barber’s shop which he had read in a book of miscellanies. The friends laughed heartily at the simplicity of the Turks, but paid dur tribute to their fanaticism, which they ascribed to opium… . At last the guest began undressing, and thinking in the kindness of his heart that very likely he hadn’t even a decent shirt, Mr. Golyadkin went behind the screen to avoid embarrassing a man who had suffered enough, and partly to reassure himself as far as possible about Petrushka, to sound him, to cheer him up if he could, to be kind to the fellow so that every one might be happy and that everything might be pleasant all round. It must be remarked that Petrushka still rather bothered Mr. Golyadkin.

“You go to bed now, Pyotr,” Mr. Golyadkin said blandly, going into his servant’s domain; “you go to bed now and wake me up and eight o’clock. Do you understand Petrushka?”

Mr. Golyadkin spoke with exceptional softness and friendliness. But Petrushka remained mute. He was busy making his bed, and did not even turn round to face his master, which he ought to have done out of simple respect.

“Did you hear what I said, Pyotr?” Mr. Golyadkin went on. “You go to bed now and wake me tomorrow at eight o’clock; do you understand?”

“Why, I know that; what’s the use of telling me?” Petrushka grumbled to himself.

“Well, that’s right, Petrushka; I only mention it that you might be happy and at rest. Now we are all happy, so I want you, too, to be happy and satisfied. And now I wish you good-night. Sleep, Petrushka, sleep; we all have to work … Don’t think anything amiss, my man …” Mr. Golyadkin began, but stopped short. “Isn’t this too much?” he thought. “Haven’t I gone too far? That’s how it always is; I always overdo things.”

Our hero felt much dissatisfied with himself as he left Petrushka. He was, besides, rather wounded by Petrushka’s grumpiness and rudeness. “One jests with the rascal, his master does him too much honour, and the rascal does not feel it,” thought Mr. Golyadkin. “But there, that’s the nasty way of all that sort of people!”

Somewhat shaken, he went back to his room, and, seeing that his guest had settled himself for the night, he sat down on the edge of his bed for a minute.

“Come, you must own, Yasha,” he began in a whisper, wagging his head, “you’re a rascal, you know; what a way you’ve treated me! You see, you’ve got my name, do you know that?” he went on, jesting in a rather familiar way with his visitor. At last, saying a friendly good-night to him, Mr. Golyadkin began preparing for the night. The visitor meanwhile began snoring. Mr. Golyadkin in his turn got into bed, laughing and whispering to himself: “You are drunk today, my dear fellow, Yakov Petrovitch, you rascal, you old Golyadkin - what a surname to have! Why, what are you so pleased about? You’ll be crying tomorrow, you know, you sniveller; what am I to do with you?”

At this point a rather strange sensation pervaded Mr. Golyadkin’s whole being, something like doubt or remorse.

“I’ve been over-excited and let myself go,” he thought; “now I’ve a noise in my head and I’m drunk; I couldn’t restrain myself, ass that I am! and I’ve been babbling bushels of nonsense, and, like a rascal, I was planning to be so sly. Of course, to forgive and forget injuries is the height of virtue; but it’s a bad thing, nevertheless! Yes, that is so!”

At this point Mr. Golyadkin got up, took a candle and went on tiptoe to look once more at his sleeping guest. He stood over him for a long time meditating deeply.

“An unpleasant picture! A burlesque, a regular burlesque, and that’s the fact of the matter!”

At last Mr. Golyadkin settled down finally. There was a humming, a buzzing, a ringing in his head. He grew more and more drowsy … tried to think about something very important, some delicate question - but could not. Sleep descended upon his devoted head, and he slept as people generally do sleep who are not used to drinking and have consumed five glasses of punch at some festive gathering.

Chapter 9

Mr. Golyadkin woke up next morning at eight o’clock as usual; as soon as he was awake he recalled all the adventures of the previous evening - and frowned as he recalled them. “Ugh, I did play the fool last night!” he thought, sitting up and glancing at his visitor’s bed. But what was his amazement when he saw in the room no trace, not only of his visitor, but even of the bed on which his visitor had slept!

“What does it mean?” Mr. Golyadkin almost shrieked. “What can it be? What does this new circumstance portend?”

While Mr. Golyadkin was gazing in open-mouthed bewilderment at the empty spot, the door creaked and Petrushka came in with the tea-tray.

“Where, where?” our hero said in a voice hardly audible, pointing to the place which had ben occupied by his visitor the night before.

At first Petrushka made no answer and did not look at his master, but fixed his eyes upon the corner to the right till Mr. Golyadkin felt compelled to look into that corner too. After a brief silence, however, Petrushka in a rude and husky voice answered that his master was not at home.

“You idiot; why I’m your master, Petrushka!” said Mr. Golyadkin in a breaking voice, looking open-eyed a his servant.

Petrushka made no reply, but he gave Mr. Golyadkin such a look that the latter crimsoned to his ears - looked at hm with an insulting reproachfulness almost equivalent to open abuse. Mr. Golyadkin was utterly flabbergasted, as the saying is. At last Petrushka explained that the ‘other one’ had gone away an hour and a half ago, and would not wait. His answer, of course, sounded truthful and probable; it was evident that Petrushka was not lying; that his insulting look and the phrase the ‘other one’ employed by him were only the result of the disgusting circumstance with which he was already familiar, but still he understood, though dimly, that something was wrong, and that destiny had some other surprise, not altogether a pleasant one, in store for him.

“All right, we shall see,” he thought to himself. “We shall see in due time; we’ll get to the bottom of all this … Oh, Lord, have mercy upon us!” he moaned in conclusion, in quite a different voice. “And why did I invite him to what end did I do all that? Why, I am thrusting my head into their thievish noose myself; I am tying the noose with my own hands. Ach, you fool, you fool! You can’t resist babbling like some silly boy, some chancery clerk, some wretched creature of no class at all, some rag, some rotten dishcloth; you’re a gossip, an old woman! … Oh, all ye saints! And he wrote verses, the rogue, and expressed his love for me! How could … How can I show him the door in a polite way if he turns up again, the rogue? Of course, there are all sorts of ways and means. I can say this is how it is, my salary being so limited … Or scare him off in some way saying that, taking this and that into consideration, I am forced to make clear … that he would have to pay an equal share of the cost of board and lodging, and pay the money in advance. H’m! No, damn it all, no! That would be degrading to me. It’s not quite delicate! Couldn’t I do something like this: suggest to Petrushka that he should annoy him in some way, should be disrespectful, be rude, and get rid of him in that way. Set them at each other in some way… . No, damn it all, no! It’s dangerous and again, if one looks at it from that point of view - it’s not the right thing at all! Not the right thing at all! But there, even if he doesn’t come, it will be a bad look-out, too! I babbled to him last night! … Ach, it’s a bad look-out, a bad look-out! Ach, we’re in a bad way! Oh, I’m a cursed fool, a cursed fool! you can’t train yourself to behave as you ought, you can’t conduct yourself reasonably. Well, what if he comes and refuses. And God grant he may come! I should be very glad if he did come… .”

Such were Mr. Golyadkin’s reflections as he swallowed his tea and glanced continually at the clock on the wall.

“It’s a quarter to nine; it’s time to go. And something will happen! What will there be there? I should like to know what exactly lies hidden in this - that is, the object, the aim, and the various intrigues. It would be a good thing to find out what all these people are plotting, and what will be their first step… .”

Mr. Golyadkin could endure it no longer. He threw down his unfinished pipe, dressed and set off for the office, anxious to ward off the danger if possible and to reassure himself about everything by his presence in person. There was danger: he knew himself that there was danger.

“We … will get to the bottom of it,” said Mr. Golyadkin, taking off his coat and goloshes in the entry. “We’ll go into all these matters immediately.”

Making up his mind to act in this way, out hero put himself to rights, assumed a correct and official air, and was just about to pass into the adjoining room, when suddenly, in the very doorway, he jostled against his acquaintance of the day before, his friend and companion. Mr. Golyadkin junior seemed not to notice Mr. Golyadkin senior, though they met almost nose to nose. Mr. Golyadkin junior seemed to be busy, to be hastening somewhere, was breathless; he had such an official, such a business-like air that it seemed as though any one could read his face: ‘Entrusted with a special commission.’ …

“Oh, it’s you, Yakov Petrovitch!” said our hero, clutching the hand of his last night’s visitor.

“Presently, presently, excuse me, tell me about it afterwards,” cried Mr. Golyadkin junior, dashing on.

“But, excuse me; I believe, Yakov Petrovitch, you wanted …”

“What is it? Make haste and explain.”

At this point his visitor of the previous night halted as though reluctantly and against his will, and put his ear almost to Mr. Golyadkin’s nose.

“I must tell you, Yakov Petrovitch, that I am surprised at your behaviour … behaviour which seemingly I could not have expected at all.”

“There’s a proper form for everything. Go to his Excellency’s secretary and then appeal in the proper way to the directors of the office. Have you got your petition?”

“You … I really don’t know Yakov Petrovitch! You simply amaze me, Yakov Petrovitch! You certainly don’t recognize me or, with characteristic gaiety, you are joking.”

“Oh, it’s you,” said Mr. Golyadkin junior, seeming only now to recognize Mr. Golyadkin senior. “So, it’s you? Well, have you had a good night?”

Then smiling a little - a formal an conventional smile, by no means the sort of smile that was befitting (for, after all, he owed a debt of gratitude to Mr. Golyadkin senior) - smiling this formal and conventional smile, Mr. Golyadkin junior added that he was very glad Mr. Golyadkin senior had had a good night; then he made a slight bow and shuffling a little with his feet, looked to the right, and to the left, then dropped his eyes to the floor, made for the side door and muttering in a hurried whisper that he had a special commission, dashed into the next room. He vanished like an apparition.

“Well, this is queer!” muttered our hero, petrified for a moment; “this is queer! This is a strange circumstance.”

At this point Mr. Golyadkin felt as though he had pins and needles all over him.

“However,” he went on to himself, as he made his way to his department, “however, I spoke long ago of such a circumstance: I had a presentiment long ago that he had a special commission. Why, I said yesterday that the man must certainly be employed on some special commission.”

“Have you finished copying out the document you had yesterday, Yakov Petrovitch,” Anton Antonovitch Syetotchkin asked Mr. Golyadkin, when the latter was seated beside him. “Have you got it here?”

“Yes,” murmured Mr. Golyadkin, looking at the head clerk with a rather helpless glance.

“That’s right! I mention it because Andrey Filippovitch has asked for it twice. I’ll be bound his Excellency wants it… .”

“Yes, it’s finished…”

“Well, that’s all right then.”

“I believe, Anton Antonovitch, I have always performed my duties properly. I’m always scrupulous over the work entrusted to me by my superiors, and I attend to it conscientiously.”

“Yes. Why, what do you mean by that?”

“I mean nothing, Anton Antonovitch. I only want to explain, Anton Antonovitch, that I … that is, I meant to express that spite and malice sometimes spare no person whatever in their search for their daily and revolting food… .”

“Excuse me, I don’t quite understand you. What person are you alluding to?”

“I only meant to say, Anton Antonovitch, that I’m seeking the straight path and I scorn going to work in a roundabout way. That I am not one to intrigue, and that, if I may be allowed to say so, I may very justly be proud of it… .”

“Yes. That’s quite so, and to the best of my comprehension I thoroughly endorse your remarks; but allow me to tell you, Yakov Petrovitch, that personalities are not quite permissible in good society, that I, for instance, am ready to put up with anything behind my back - for every one’s abused behind his back - but to my face, if you please, my good sir, I don’t allow any one to be impudent. I’ve grown grey in the government service, sir, and I don’t allow any one to be impudent to me in my old age… .”

“No, Anton Antonovitch … you see, Anton Antonovitch … you haven’t quite caught my meaning. To be sure, Anton Antonovitch, I for my part could only thing it an honour …”

“Well, then, I ask pardon too. We’ve been brought up in the old school. And it’s too late for us to learn your new-fangled ways. I believe we’ve had understanding enough for the service of our country up to now. As you are aware, sir, I have an order of merit for twenty-five years’ irreproachable service… .”

“I feel it, Anton Antonovitch, on my side, too, I quite feel all that. But I didn’t mean that, I am speaking of a mask, Anton Antonovitch… .”

“A mask?”

“Again you … I am apprehensive that you are taking this, too, in a wrong sense, that is the sense of my remarks, as you say yourself, Anton Antonovitch. I am simply enunciating a theory, that is, I am advancing the idea, Anton Antonovitch, that persons who wear a mask have become far from uncommon, and that nowadays it is hard to recognize the man beneath the mask …”

“Well, do you know, it’s not altogether so hard. Sometimes it’s fairly easy. Sometimes one need not go far to look for it.”

“No, you know, Anton Antonovitch, I say, I say of myself, that I, for instance, do not put on a mask except when there is need of it; that is simply at carnival time or at some festive gathering, speaking in the literal sense; but that I do not wear a mask before people in daily life, speaking in another less obvious sense. That’s what I meant to say, Anton Antonovitch.”

“Oh, well, but we must drop all this, for now I’ve no time to spare,” said Anton Antonovitch, getting up from his seat and collecting some papers in order to report upon them to his Excellency. “Your business, as I imagine, will be explained in due course without delay. You will see for yourself whom you should censure and whom you should blame, and thereupon I humbly beg you to spare me from further explanations and arguments which interfere with my work… .”

“No, Anton Antonovitch,” Mr. Golyadkin, turning a little pale, began to the retreating figure of Anton Antonovitch; “I had no intention of the kind.”

“What does it mean?” our hero went on to himself, when he was left alone; “what quarter is the wind in now, and what is one to make of this new turn?”

At the very time when our bewildered and half-crushed hero was setting himself to solve this new question, there was a sound of movement and bustle in the next room, the door opened and Andrey Filippovitch, who had been on some business in his Excellency’s study, appeared breathless in the doorway, and called to Mr. Golyadkin. Knowing what was wanted and anxious not to keep Andrey Filippovitch waiting, Mr. Golyadkin leapt up from his seat, and as was fitting immediately bustled for all he was worth getting the manuscript that was required finally neat and ready and preparing to follow the manuscript and Andrey Filippovitch into his Excellency’s study. Suddenly, almost slipping under the arm of Andrey Filippovitch, who was standing right in the doorway, Mr. Golyadkin junior darted into the room in breathless haste and bustle, with a solemn and resolutely official air; he bounded straight up to Mr. Golyadkin senior, who was expecting nothing less than such a visitation.

“The papers, Yakov Petrovitch, the papers … his Excellency has been pleased to ask for them; have you got them ready?” Mr. Golyadkin senior’s friend whispered in a hurried undertone. “Andrey Filippovitch is waiting for you… .”

“I know he is waiting without your telling me,” said Mr. Golyadkin senior, also in a hurried whisper.

“No, Yakov Petrovitch, I did not mean that; I did not mean that at all, Yakov Petrovitch, not that at all; I sympathise with you, Yakov Petrovitch, and am humbly moved by genuine interest.”

“Which I most humbly beg you to spare me. Allow me, allow me …”

“You’ll put it in an envelope, of course, Yakov Petrovitch, and you’ll put a mark in the third page; allow me, Yakov Petrovitch… .”

“You allow me, if you please …”

“But, I say, there’s a blot here, Yakov Petrovitch; did you know there was a blot here? …”

At this point Andrey Filippovitch called Yakov Petrovitch a second time.

“One moment, Andrey Filippovitch, I’m only just … Do you understand Russian, sir?”

“It would be best to take it out with a penknife, Yakov Petrovitch. You had better rely upon me; you had better not touch it yourself, Yakov Petrovitch, rely upon me - I’ll do it with a penknife …”

Andrey Filippovitch called Mr. Golyadkin a third time.

“But, allow me, where’s the blot? I don’t think there’s a blot at all.”

“It’s a huge blot. Here it is! Here, allow me, I saw it here … you just let me, Yakov Petrovitch, I’ll just touch it with the penknife, I’ll scratch it out with the penknife from true-hearted sympathy. There, life this; see, it’s done.”

At this point, and quite unexpectedly, Mr. Golyadkin junior overpowered Mr. Golyadkin senior in the momentary struggle that had arisen between them, and so, entirely against the latter’s will, suddenly, without rhyme or reason, took possession of the document required by the authorities, and instead of scratching it out with the penknife in true-hearted sympathy as he had perfidiously promised Mr. Golyadkin senior, hurriedly rolled it up, put it under his arm, in two bounds was beside Andrey Filippovitch, who noticed none of his manoeuvres, and flew with the latter into the Director’s room. Mr. Golyadkin remained as though rivetted to the spot, holding the penknife in his hand and apparently on the point of scratching something out with it …

Our hero could not yet grasp his new position. He could not at once recover himself. He felt the blow, but thought that it was somehow all right. In terrible, indescribable misery he tore himself at last from his seat, rushed straight to the Director’s room, imploring heaven on the way that it would be all right … In the furthest most room, which adjoined the Director’s private room, he ran straight upon Andrey Filippovitch in company with his namesake. Both of them moved aside. Andrey Filippovitch was talking with a good-humoured smile, Mr. Golyadkin senior’s namesake was smiling, too, fawning upon Andrey Filippovitch and tripping about at a respectful distance from him, and was whispering something in his ear with a delighted air, to which Andrey Filippovitch assented with a gracious nod. In a flash our hero grasped the whole position. The fact was that the work had surpassed his Excellency’s expectations (as he learnt afterwards) and was finished punctually by the time it was needed. He Excellency was extremely pleased with it. It was even said that his excellency had said “Thank you” to Mr. Golyadkin junior, had thanked him warmly, had said that he would remember it on occasion and would never forget it… . Of course, the first thing Mr. Golyadkin did was to protest, to protest with the utmost vigour of which he was capable. Pale as death, and hardly knowing what he was doing, he rushed up to Andrey Filippovitch. But the latter, hearing that Mr. Golyadkin’s business was a private matter, refused to listen, observing firmly that he had not a minute to spare for his own affairs.

The curtness of his tone and his refusal struck Mr. Golyadkin.

“I had better, perhaps, try in another quarter … I had better appeal to Anton Antonovitch.”

But to his disappointment Anton Antonovitch was not available either: he, too, was busy over something somewhere!

“Ah, it was not without design that he asked me to spare him explanation and discussion!” thought our hero. “This was what the old rogue had in his mind! In that case I shall simply make bold to approach his Excellency.”

Still pale and feeling that his brain was in a complete ferment, greatly perplexed as to what he ought to decide to do, Mr. Golyadkin sat down on the edge of the chair. “It would have been a great deal better if it had all been just nothing,” he kept incessantly thinking to himself. “Indeed, such a mysterious business was utterly improbable. In the first place, it was nonsense, and secondly it could not happen. Most likely it was imagination, or something else happened, and not what really did happen; or perhaps I went myself … and somehow mistook myself for some one else … in short, it’s an utterly impossible thing.”

Mr. Golyadkin had no sooner made up his mind that it was an utterly impossible thing that Mr. Golyadkin junior flew into the room with papers in both hands as well as under his arm. Saying two or three words about business to Andrey Filippovitch as he passed, exchanging remarks with one, polite greetings with another, and familiarities with a third, Mr. Golyadkin junior, having apparently no time to waste, seemed on the point of leaving the room, but luckily for Mr. Golyadkin senior he stopped near the door to say a few words as he passed two or three clerks who were at work there. Mr. Golyadkin senior rushed straight at him. As soon as Mr. Golyadkin junior saw Mr. Golyadkin senior’s movement he began immediately, with great uneasiness, looking about him to make his escape. but our hero already held his last night’s guest by the sleeve. The clerks surrounding the two titular councillors stepped back and waited with curiosity to see what would happen. The senior titular councillor realized that public opinion was not on his side, he realized that they were intriguing against him: which made it all the more necessary to hold his own now. The moment was a decisive one.

“Well!” said Mr. Golyadkin junior, looking rather impatiently at Mr. Golyadkin senior.

The latter could hardly breathe.

“I don’t know,” he began, “in what way to make plain to you the strangeness of your behaviour, sir.”

“Well. Go on.” At this point Mr. Golyadkin junior turned round and winked to the clerks standing round, as though to give them to understand that a comedy was beginning.

“The impudence and shamelessness of your manners with me, sir, in the present case, unmasks your true character … better than any words of mine could do. Don’t rely on your trickery: it is worthless… .”

“Come, Yakov Petrovitch, tell me now, how did you spend the night?” answered Mr. Golyadkin junior, looking Mr. Golyadkin senior straight in the eye.

“You forget yourself, sir,” said the titular councillor, completely flabbergasted, hardly able to feel the floor under his feet. “I trust that you will take a different tone… .”

“My darling!” exclaimed Mr. Golyadkin junior, making a rather unseemly grimace at Mr. Golyadkin senior, and suddenly, quite unexpectedly, under the pretence of caressing him, he pinched his chubby cheek with two fingers.

Our hero grew as hot as fire … As soon as Mr. Golyadkin junior noticed that his opponent, quivering in every limb, speechless with rage, as red as a lobster, and exasperated beyond all endurance, might actually be driven to attack him, he promptly and in the most shameless way hastened to be beforehand with his victim. Patting him two or three times on the cheek, tickling him two or three times, playing with him for a few seconds in this way while his victim stood rigid and beside himself with fury to the no little diversion of the young men standing round, Mr. Golyadkin junior ended with a most revolting shamelessness by giving Mr. Golyadkin senior a poke in his rather prominent stomach, and with a most venomous and suggestive smile said to him: “You’re mischievous brother Yakov, you are mischievous! We’ll be sly, you and I, Yakov Petrovitch, we’ll be sly.”

Then, and before our hero could gradually come to himself after the last attack, Mr. Golyadkin junior (with a little smile beforehand to the spectators standing round) suddenly assumed a most businesslike, busy and official air, dropped his eyes to the floor and, drawing himself in, shrinking together, and pronouncing rapidly “on a special commission” he cut a caper with his short leg, and darted away into the next room. Our hero could not believe his eyes and was still unable to pull himself together…

At last he roused himself. Recognizing in a flash that he was ruined, in a sense annihilated, that he had disgraced himself and sullied his reputation, that he had been turned into ridicule and treated with contempt in the presence of spectators, that he had been treacherously insulted, by one whom he had looked on only the day before as his greatest and most trustworthy friend, that he had been put to utter confusion, Mr. Golyadkin senior rushed in pursuit of his enemy. At the moment he would not even think of the witnesses of his ignominy.

“They’re all in a conspiracy together,” he said to himself; “they stand by each other and set each other on to attack me.” After taking a dozen steps, however, our perceived clearly that all pursuit would be vain and useless, and so he turned back. “You won’t get away,” he thought, “you will get caught on day; the wolf will have to pay for the sheep’s tears.”

With ferocious composure and the most resolute determination Mr. Golyadkin went up to his chair and sat down upon it. “You won’t escape,” he said again.

Now it was not a question of passive resistance: there was determination and pugnacity in the air, and any one who had seen how Mr. Golyadkin at that moment, flushed and scarcely able to restrain his excitement, stabbed his pen into the inkstand and with what fury he began scribbling on the paper, could be certain beforehand that the that the matter would not pass off like this, and could not end in a simple, womanish way. In the depth of his soul he formed a resolution, and in the depth of his heart swore to carry it out. To tell the truth he still did not quite know how to act, or rather did not know at all, but never mind, that did not matter!

“Imposture and shamelessness do not pay nowadays, sir. Imposture and shamelessness, sir, lead to no good, but lead to the halter. Grishka Otrepyov was the only one, sir, who gained by imposture, deceiving the blind people and even that not for long.”

In spite of this last circumstance Mr. Golyadkin proposed to wait til such time as the mask should fall from certain persons and something should be made manifest. For this it was necessary, in the first place, that office hours should be over as soon as possible, and till then our hero proposed to take no step. He knew then how he must act after taking that step, how to arrange his whole plan of action, to abase the horn of arrogance and crush the snake gnawing the dust in contemptible impotence. To allow himself to be treated like a rag used for wiping dirty boots, Mr. Golyadkin could not. He could not consent to that, especially in the present case. Had it not been for that last insult, our hero might have, perhaps, brought himself to control his anger; he might, perhaps, have been silent, have submitted and not have protested too obstinately; he would just have disputed a little, have made a slight complaint, have proved that he was in the right, then he would have given way a little, then, perhaps, he would have given way a little more, then he would have come round altogether, then, especially when the opposing party solemnly admitted that he was right, perhaps, he would have overlooked it completely, would even have been a little touched, there might even, perhaps - who could tell - spring up a new, close, warm friendship, on an even broader basis than the friendship of last night, so that this friendship might, in the end, completely eclipse the unpleasantness of the rather unseemly resemblance of the two individuals, so that both the titular councillors might be highly delighted, and might go on living till they were a hundred, and so on. To tell the whole truth, Mr. Golyadkin began to regret a little that he had stood up for himself and his rights, and had at once come in for unpleasantness in consequence.

“Should he give in,” thought Mr. Golyadkin, “say he was joking, I would forgive him. I would forgive him even more if he would acknowledge it aloud. but I won’t let myself be treated like a rag. And I have not allowed even persons very different from him to treat me so, still less will I permit a depraved person to attempt it. I am not a rag. I am not a rag, sir!”

In short, our hero made up his mind “You’re in fault yourself, sir!” he thought. He made up his mind to protest with all his might to the very last. That was the sort of man he was! He could not consent to allow himself to be insulted, still less to allow himself to be treated as a rag, and, above all, to allow a thoroughly vicious man to treat him so. No quarrelling, however, no quarrelling! Possibly if some one wanted, if some one, for instance, actually insisted on turning Mr. Golyadkin into rag, he might have done so, might have might have done so without opposition or punishment (Mr. Golyadkin was himself conscious of this at times), and he would have been a rag and not Golyadkin - yes, a nasty, filthy rag; but that rag would not have been a simple rag, it would have been a rag possessed of dignity, it would have been a rag possessed of feelings and sentiments, even though dignity was defenceless and feelings could not assert themselves, and lay hidden deep down in the filthy folds of the rag, still thee feelings were there …

The hours dragged on incredibly slowly; at last it struck four. Soon after, all got up and, following the head of the department, moved each on his homeward way. Mr. Golyadkin mingled with the crowd; he kept a vigilant look out, and did not lose sight of the man he wanted. At last our hero saw hat his friend ran up to the office attendants who handed the clerks their overcoats, and hung about near them waiting for his in his usual nasty way. The minute was a decisive one. Mr. Golyadkin forced his way somehow through the crowd and, anxious not to be left behind, he, too, began fussing about his overcoat. But Mr. Golyadkin’s friend and companion was given his overcoat first because on this occasion, too, he had succeeded, as he always did, in making up to them, whispering something to them, cringing upon them and getting round them.

After putting on his overcoat, Mr. Golyadkin junior glanced ironically at Mr. Golyadkin senior, acting in this way openly and defiantly, looked about him with his characteristic insolence, finally he tripped to and fro among the other clerks - no doubt in order to leave a good impression on them - said a word to one, whispered something to another, respectfully accosted a third, directed a smile at a fourth, gave his hand to a fifth, and gaily darted downstairs. Mr. Golyadkin senior flew after him, and to his inexpressible delight overtook him on the last step, and seized him by the collar of his overcoat. It seemed as though Mr. Golyadkin junior was a little disconcerted, and he looked about him with a helpless air.

“What do you mean by this?” he whispered to Mr. Golyadkin at last, in a weak voice.

“Sir, if you are a gentleman, I trust that you remember our friendly relations yesterday,” said out hero.

“Ah, yes! Well? Did you sleep well?”

Fury rendered Mr. Golyadkin senior speechless for a moment.

“I slept well, sir … but allow me to tell you, sir, that you are playing a very complicated game …”

“Who says so? My enemies say that,” answered abruptly the man who called himself Mr. Golyadkin, and saying this, he unexpectedly freed himself from the feeble hand of the real Mr. Golyadkin. As soon as he was free he rushed away from the stairs, looked around him, saw a cab, ran up to it, got in, and in one moment vanished from Mr. Golyadkin senior’s sight. The despairing titular councillor, abandoned by all, gazed about him, but there was no other cab. He tried to run, but his legs gave way under him. With a look of open-mouthed astonishment on his countenance, feeling crushed and shrivelled up, he leaned helplessly against a lamp post, and remained so for some minutes in the middle of the pavement. It seemed as though all were over for Mr. Golyadkin.

Chapter 5

Everything, apparently, and even nature itself, seemed up in arms against Mr. Golyadkin; but he was still on his legs and unconquered; he felt that he was unconquered. He was ready to struggle. he rubbed his hands with such feeling and such energy when he recovered from his first amazement that it could be deduced from his very air that he would not give in. yet the danger was imminent; it was evident; Mr. Golyadkin felt it; but how to grapple with it, with this danger? - that was the question. the thought even flashed through Mr. Golyadkin’s mind for a moment, “After all, why not leave it so, simply give up? Why, what is it? Why, it’s nothing. I’ll keep apart as though it were not I,” thought Mr. Golyadkin. “I’ll let it all pass; it’s not I, and that’s all about it; he’s separate too, maybe he’ll give it up too; he’ll hang about, the rascal, he’ll hang about. He’ll come back and give it up again. Than’s how it will be! I’ll take it meekly. And, indeed, where is the danger? Come, what danger is there? I should like any one to tell me where the danger lies in this business. It is a trivial affair. An everyday affair… .”

At this point Mr. Golyadkin’s tongue failed; the words died away on his lips; he even swore at himself for this thought; he convicted himself on the spot of abjectness, of cowardice for having this thought; things were no forwarder, however. He felt that to make up his mind to some course of action was absolutely necessary for him at the moment; he even felt that he would have given a great deal to any one who could have told him what he must decide to do. Yes, but how could he guess what? Though, indeed, he had no time to guess. In any case, that he might lose no time he took a cab and dashed home.

“Well? What are you feeling now?” he wondered; “what are you graciously pleased to be thinking of, Yakov Petrovitch? What are you doing? What are you doing now, you rogue, you rascal? You’ve brought yourself to this plight, and now you are weeping and whimpering!”

So Mr. Golyadkin taunted himself as he jolted along in the vehicle. To taunt himself and so to irritate his wounds was, at this time, a great satisfaction to Mr. Golyadkin, almost a voluptuous enjoyment.

“Well,” he thought, “if some magician were to turn up now, or if it could come to pass in some official way and I were told: ‘Give a finger of your right hand, Golyadkin - and it’s a bargain with you; there shall not be the other Golyadkin, and you will be happy, only you won’t have your finger’ - yes, I would sacrifice my finger, I would certainly sacrifice it, I would sacrifice it without winking… . The devil take it all!” the despairing titular councillor cried at last. “Why, what is it all for? Well, it all had to be; yes, it absolutely had to; yes, just this had to be, as though nothing else were possible! And it was all right at first. Every one was pleased and happy. But there, it had to be! There’s nothing to be gained by talking, though; you must act.”

And so, almost resolved upon some action, Mr. Golyadkin reached home, and without a moment’s delay snatched up his pipe and, sucking at it with all his might and puffing out clouds of smoke to right and to left, he began pacing up and down the room in a state of violent excitement. Meanwhile, Petrushka began laying the table. At last Mr. Golyadkin made up his mind completely, flung aside his pipe, put on his overcoat, said he would not dine at home and ran out of the flat. Petrushka, panting, overtook him on the stairs, bringing the hat he had forgotten. Mr. Golyadkin took his hat, wanted to say something incidentally to justify himself in Petrushka’s eyes that the latter might not think anything particular, such as, “What a queer circumstance! here he forgot his hat - and so on,” but as Petrushka walked away at once and would not even look at him, Mr. Golyadkin put on his hat without further explanation, ran downstairs, and repeating to himself that perhaps everything might be for the best, and that affairs would somehow be arranged, though he was conscious among other things of a cold chill right down to his heels, he went out into the street, took a cab and hastened to Andrey Filippovitch’s.

“Would it not be better tomorrow, though?” thought Mr. Golyadkin, as he took hold of the bell-rope of Andrey Filippovitch’s flat. “And, besides, what can I say in particular? There is nothing particular in it. It’s such a wretched affair, yes, it really is wretched, paltry, yes, that is, almost a paltry affair … yes, that’s what it is, the incident … Suddenly Mr. Golyadkin pulled at the bell; the bell rang; footsteps were heard within … Mr. Golyadkin cursed himself on the spot for his hastiness and audacity. His recent unpleasant experiences, which he had almost forgotten over his work, and his encounter with Andrey Filippovitch immediately cam back into his mind. But by now it was too late to run away: the door opened. Luckily for Mr. Golyadkin he was informed that Andrey Filippovitch had not returned from the office and had not dined at home.

“I know where he dines: he dines near the Ismailovsky Bridge,” thought our hero; and he was immensely relieved. To the footman’s inquiry what message he would leave, he said: “It’s all right, my good man, I’ll look in later,” and he even ran downstairs with a certain cheerful briskness. Going out into the street, he decided to dismiss the cab and paid the driver. When the man asked for something extra, saying he had been waiting in the street and had not spared his horse for his honour, he gave him five kopecks extra, and even willingly; and then walked on.

“It really is such a thing,” thought Mr. Golyadkin, “that it cannot be left like that; though, if one looks at it that way, looks at it sensibly, why am I hurrying about here, in reality? Well, yes, though, I will go on discussing why I should take a lot of trouble; why I should rush about, exert myself, worry myself and wear myself out. To begin with, the thing’s done and there’s no recalling it … of course, there’s no recalling it! Let us put it like this: a man turns up with a satisfactory reference, said to be a capable clerk, of good conduct, only he is a poor man and has suffered many reverses - all sorts of ups and downs - well, poverty is not a crime: so I must stand aside. Why, what nonsense it is! Well, he came; he is so made, the man is so made by nature itself that he is as like another man as though they were two drops of water, as though he were a perfect copy of another man; how could they refuse to take him into the department on that account? If it is fate, if it is only fate, if it only blind chance that is to blame - is he to be treated like a rag, is he to be refused a job in the office? … Why, what would become of justice after that? He is a poor man, hopeless, downcast; it makes one’s heart ache: compassion bids one care for him! Yes! There’s no denying, there would be a fine set of head officials, if they took the same view as a reprobate like me! What an addlepate I am! I have foolishness enough for a dozen! Yes, yes! They did right, and many thanks to them for being good to a poor, luckless fellow … Why, let us imagine for a moment that we are twins, that we had been born twin brothers, and nothing else - there it is! Well, what of it? Why, nothing! All the clerks can get used to it … And an outsider, coming into our office, would certainly find nothing unseemly or offensive in the circumstance. In fact, there is really something touching it; to think that the divine Providence created two men exactly alike, and the heads of the department, seeing the divine handiwork, provided for two twins. It would, of course,” Mr. Golyadkin went on, drawing a breath and dropping his voice, “it would, of course … it would, of course, have been better if there had been … if there had been nothing of this touching kindness, and if there had been no twins either … The devil take it all! And what need was there for it? And what was the particular necessity that admitted of no delay! My goodness! The devil has made a mess of it! Besides, he has such a character, too, he’s of such a playful, horrid disposition - he’s such a scoundrel, he’s such a nimble fellow! He’s such a toady! Such a lickspittle! He’s such a Golyadkin! I daresay he will misconduct himself; yes, he’ll disgrace my name, the blackguard! And now I have to look after hm and wait upon him! What an infliction! But, after all, what of it? It doesn’t matter. Granted, he’s a scoundrel, well, let him be a scoundrel, but to make up for it, the other one’s honest; so he will be a scoundrel and I’ll be honest, and they’ll say that this Golyadkin’s a rascal, don’t take any notice of him, and don’t mix him up with the other; but the other one’s honest, virtuous, mild, free from malice, always to be relied upon in the service, and worthy of promotion; that’s how it is, very good … but what if … what if they get us mixed up! … He is equal to anything! Ah, Lord, have mercy upon us! … He will counterfeit a man, he will counterfeit him, the rascal - he will change one man for another as though he were a rag, and not reflect that a man is not a rag. Ach, mercy on us! Ough, what a calamity!” …

Reflecting and lamenting in this way, Mr. Golyadkin ran on, regardless of where he was going. He came to his senses in Nevsky Prospect, only owing to the chance that he ran so neatly full-tilt into a passer-by that he saw stars in his eyes. Mr. Golyadkin muttered his excuses without raising his head, and it was only after the passer-by, muttering something far from flattering, had walked a considerable distance away, that he raised his nose and looked about to see where he was and how he had got there. Noticing when he did so that he was close to the restaurant in which he had sat for a while before the dinner-part at Olsufy Ivanovitch’s, our hero was suddenly conscious of a pinching and nipping sensation in his stomach; he remembered that he had not dined; he had no prospect of a dinner-party anywhere. And so, without losing precious time, he ran upstairs into the restaurant to have a snack of something as quickly as possible, and to avoid delay by making all the haste he could. And though everything in the restaurant was rather dear, that little circumstance did not on this occasion make Mr. Golyadkin pause, and, indeed, he had no time to pause over such a trifle. In the brightly lighted room the customers were standing in rather a crowd round the counter, upon which lay heaps of all sorts of such edibles as are eaten by well-bred person’s at lunch. The waiter scarcely had time to fill glasses, to serve, to take money and give change. Mr. Golyadkin waited for his turn and modestly stretched out his had for a savoury patty. Retreating into a corner, turning his back on the company and eating with appetite, he went back to the attendant, put down his plate and, knowing the price, took out a ten-kopeck piece and laid the coin on the counter, catching the waiter’s eye as though to say, “Look, here’s the money, one pie,” and so on.

“One rouble ten kopecks is your bill,” the waiter filtered through his teeth.

Mr. Golyadkin was a good deal surprised.

“You are speaking to me? … I … I took one pie, I believe.”

“You’ve had eleven,” the man said confidently.

“You … so it seems to me … I believe, you’re mistaken … I really took only one pie, I think.”

“I counted them; you took eleven. Since you’ve had them you must pay for them; we don’t give anything away for nothing.”

Mr. Golyadkin was petrified. “What sorcery is this, what is happening to me?” he wondered. Meanwhile, the man waited for Mr. Golyadkin to make up his mind; people crowded round Mr. Golyadkin; he was already feeling in his pocket for a silver rouble, to pay the full amount at once, to avoid further trouble. “Well, if it was eleven, it was eleven,” he thought, turning as red as a lobster. “Why, a man’s hungry, so he eats eleven pies; well, let him eat, and may it do him good; and there’s nothing to wonder at in that, and there’s nothing to laugh at … “

At that moment something seemed to stab Mr. Golyadkin. He raised his eyes and - at once he guessed he riddle. He knew what the sorcery was. All his difficulties were solved …

In the doorway of the next room, almost directly behind the waiter and facing Mr. Golyadkin, in the doorway which, till that moment, our hero had taken for a looking-glass, a man was standing - he was standing, Mr. Golyadkin was standing - not the original Mr. Golyadkin, the hero of our story, but the other Mr. Golyadkin, the new Mr. Golyadkin. The second Mr. Golyadkin was apparently in excellent spirits. He smiled to Mr. Golyadkin the first, nodded to him, winked, shuffled his feet a little, and looked as though in another minute he would vanish, would disappear into the next room, and then go out, maybe, by a back way out; and there it would be, and all pursuit would be in vain. In his hand he had the last morsel of the tenth pie, and before Mr. Golyadkin’s very eyes he popped it into his mouth and smacked his lips.

“He had impersonated me, the scoundrel!” thought Mr. Golyadkin, flushing hot with shame. “He is not ashamed of the publicity of it! Do they see him? I fancy no one notices him … “

Mr. Golyadkin threw down his rouble as though it burnt his fingers, and without noticing the waiter’s insolently significant grin, a smile of triumph and serene power, he extricated himself from the crowd, and rushed away without looking round. “We must be thankful that at least he has not completely compromised anyone!” thought Mr. Golyadkin senior. “We must be thankful to him, the brigand, and to fate, that everything was satisfactorily settled. The waiter was rude, that was all. But, after all, he was in the right. One rouble and ten kopecks were owing: so he was in the right. ‘We don’t give things away for nothing,’ he said! Though he might have been more polite, the rascal …”

All this Mr. Golyadkin said to himself as he went downstairs to the entrance, but on the last step he stopped suddenly, as though he had been shot, and suddenly flushed till the tears came into his eyes at the insult to his dignity. After standing stockstill for half a minute, he stamped his foot, resolutely, at one bound leapt from the step into the street and, without looking round, rushed breathless and unconscious of fatigue back home, without changing his coat, though it was his habit to change into an old coat at home, without even stopping to take his pipe, he sat down on the sofa, drew the inkstand towards him, took up a pen, got a sheet of notepaper, and with a hand that trembled from inward excitement, began scribbling the following epistle,

“Dear Sir Yakov Petrovitch!

“I should not take up my pen if my circumstances, and your own action, sir, had not compelled me to that step. Believe me that nothing but necessity would have induced me to enter upon such a discussion with you and therefore, first of all, I beg you, sir, to look upon this step of mine not as a premeditated design to insult you, but as the inevitable consequence of the circumstance that is a bond between us now.”

(“I think that’s all right, proper courteous, though not lacking in force and firmness … I don’t think there is anything for him to take offence at. Besides, I’m fully within my rights,” thought Mr. Golyadkin, reading over what he had written.)

“Your strange and sudden appearance, sir, on a stormy night, after the coarse and unseemly behavious of my enemies to me, for whom I feel too much contempt even to mention their names, was the starting-point of all the misunderstanding existing between us at the present time. Your obstinate desire to persist in your course of action, sir, and forcibly to enter the circle of my existence and all my relations in practical life, transgresses every limit imposed by the merest politeness and every rule of civilized society. I imagine there is no need, sir, for me to refer to the seizure by you of my papers, and particularly to your taking away my good name, in order to gain the favour of my superiors - favour you have not deserved. There is no need to refer here either to your intentional and insulting refusal of the necessary explanation in regard to us. Finally, to omit nothing, I will not allude here to your last strange, on my even say, your incomprehensible behaviour to me in the coffee-house. I am far from lamenting over the needless - for me - loss of a rouble; but I cannot help expressing my indignation at the recollection of your public outrage upon me, to the detriment of my honour, and what is more, in the presence of several persons of good breeding, though not belonging to my circle of acquaintance.”

(“Am I not going too far?” thought Mr. Golyadkin. “Isn’t it too much; won’t it be too insulting - that taunt about good breeding, for instance? … But there, it doesn’t matter! I must show him the resoluteness of my character. I might, however, to soften him, flatter him, and butter him up at the end. But there, we shall see.”)

“But I should not weary you with my letter, sir, if I were not firmly convinced that the nobility of your sentiments and your open, candid character would suggest to you yourself a means for retrieving all lapses and returning everything to its original position.

“With full confidence I venture to rest assured that you will not take my letter in a sense derogatory to yourself, and at the same time that you will not refuse to explain yourself expressly on this occasion by letter, sending the same by my man.

“In expectation of your reply, I have the honour, dear sir, to remain,

“Your humble servant,

“Y. Golyadkin.”

“Well, that is quite all right. The thing’s done, it has come to letter-writing. But who is to blame for that? He is to blame himself: by his own action he reduces a man to the necessity of resorting to epistolary composition. And I am within my rights… .”

Reading over his letter for the last time, Mr. Golyadkin folded it up, sealed it and called Petrushka. Petrushka came in looking, as usual, sleepy and cross about something.

“You will take this letter, my boy … do you understand?”

Petrushka did not speak.

“You will take it to the department; there you must find the secretary on duty, Vahramyev. He is the one on duty today. Do you understand that?”

“I understand.”

“‘I understand’! He can’t even say, ‘I understand, sir!’ You must ask the secretary, Vahramyev, and tell him that your master desired you to send his regards, and humbly requests him to refer to the address book of our office and find out where the titular councillor, Golyadkin, is living?”

Petrushka remained mute, and, as Mr. Golyadkin fancied, smiled.

“Well, so you see, Pyotr, you have to ask him for the address, and find out where the new clerk, Golyadkin, lives.”


“You must ask for the address and then take this letter there. Do you understand?”

“I understand.”

“If there … where you have to take the letter, that gentleman to whom you have to give the letter, that Golyadkin … What are you laughing at, you blockhead?”

“What is there to laugh at? What is it to me! I wasn’t doing anything, sir. it’s not for the likes of us to laugh… .”

“Oh, well … if that gentleman should ask, ‘How is your master, how is he’; if he … well, if he should ask you anything - you hold your tongue, and answer, ‘My master is all right and begs you for an answer to his letter.’ Do you understand?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, then, say, ‘My master is all right and quite well,’ say ‘and is just getting ready to pay a call: and he asks you,’ say, ‘for an answer in writing.’ Do you understand?”


“Well, go along, then.”

“Why, what a bother I have with this blockhead too! He’s laughing, and there’s nothing to be done. What’s he laughing at? I’ve lived to see trouble. Here I’ve lived like this to see trouble. Though perhaps it may all turn out for the best… . That rascal will be loitering about for the next two hours now, I expect; he’ll go off somewhere else… . There’s no sending him anywhere. What a misery it is! … What misery has come upon me!”

Feeling his troubles to the full, our hero made up his mind to remain passive for two hours till Petrushka returned. For an hour of the time he walked about the room, smoked, then put aside his pipe and sat down to a book, then he lay down on the sofa, then took up his pipe again, then again began running about the room. He tried to think things over but was absolutely unable to think about anything. At last the agony of remaining passive reached the climax and Mr. Golyadkin made up his mind to take a step. “Petrushka will come in another hour,” he thought. “I can give the key to the porter, and I myself can, so to speak … I can investigate the matter: I shall investigate the matter in my own way.”

Without loss of time, in haste to investigate the matter, Mr. Golyadkin took his hat, went out of the room, locked up his flat, went in to the porter, gave him the key, together with ten kopecks - Mr. Golyadkin had become extraordinarily free-handed of late - and rushed off. Mr. Golyadkin went first on foot to the Ismailovsky Bridge. It took him half an hour to get there. When he reached to goal of his journey he went straight into the yard of the house so familiar to him, and glanced up at the windows of the civil councillor Berendyev’s flat. Except for three windows hung with red curtains all the rest was dark.

“Olsufy Ivanovitch has no visitors today,” thought Mr. Golyadkin; “they must all be staying at home today.”

After standing for some time in the yard, our hero tried to decide on some course of action. but he was apparently not destined to reach a decision. Mr. Golyadkin changed his mind, and with a wave of his hand went back into the street.

“No, there’s no need for me to go today. What could I do here? … No, I’d better, so to speak … I’ll investigate the matter personally.”

Coming to this conclusion, Mr. Golyadkin rushed off to his office. He had a long way to go. It was horribly muddy, besides, and the wet snow lay about in thick drifts. But it seemed as though difficulty did not exist for our hero at the moment. He was drenched through, it is true, and he was a ood deal spattered with mud.

“But that’s no matter, so long as the object is obtained.”

And Mr. Golyadkin certainly was nearing his goal. The dark mass of the huge government building stood up black before his eyes.

“Stay,” he thought; “where am I going, and what am I going to do here? Suppose I do find out where he lives? Meanwhile, Petrushka will certainly have come back and brought me the answer. I am only wasting my precious time, I am simply wasting my time. Though shouldn’t I, perhaps, go in and see Vahramyev? But, no, I’ll go later… . Ech! There was no need to have gone out at all. But, there, it’s my temperament! I’ve a knack of always seizing a chance of rushing ahead of things, whether there is a need to or not… . H’m! … what time is it? It must be nine by now. Petrushka might come and not find me at home. It was pure folly on my part to go out… Ech, it is really a nuisance!”

Sincerely acknowledging that he had been guilty of an act of folly, our hero ran back to Shestilavotchny Street. He arrived there, weary and exhausted. From the porter he learned that Petrushka has not dreamed of turning up yet.

“To be sure! I foresaw it would be so,” thought our hero; and meanwhile it’s nine o’clock. Ech, he’s such a good-for-nothing chap! He’s always drinking somewhere! Mercy on us! What a day had fallen to my miserable lot!”

Reflecting in this way, Mr. Golyadkin unlocked his flat, got a light, took off his outdoor things, lighted his pipe and, tired, worn-out, exhausted and hungry, lay down on the sofa and waited for Petrushka. The candle burnt dimly; the light flickered on the wall… . Mr. Golyadkin gazed and gazed, and thought and thought, and fell asleep at last, worn out.

It was late when he woke up. The candle had almost burnt down, was smoking and on the point of going out. Mr. Golyadkin jumped up, shook himself, and remembered it all, absolutely all. behind the screen he heard Petrushka snoring lustily. Mr. Golyadkin rushed to the window - not a light anywhere. he opened the movable pane - all was still; the city was asleep as though it were dead: so it must have been two or three o’clock; so it proved to be, indeed; the clock behind the partition made an effort and struck two. Mr. Golyadkin rushed behind the partition.

He succeeded, somehow, though only after great exertions, in rousing Petrushka, and making him sit up in his bed. At that moment the candle went out completely. About ten minutes passed before Mr. Golyadkin succeeded in finding another candle and lighting it. In the interval Petrushka had fallen asleep again.

“You scoundrel, you worthless fellow!” said Mr. Golyadkin, shaking him up again. “Will you get up, will you wake?” After half an hour of effort Mr. Golyadkin succeeded, however, in rousing his servant thoroughly, and dragging him out from behind the partition. Only then, our hero remarked the fact that Petrushka was what is called dead-drunk and could hardly stand on his legs.

“You good-for-nothing fellow!” cried Mr. Golyadkin; “you ruffian! You’ll be the death of me! Good heavens! whatever has he done with the letter? Ach, my God! where is it? … And why did I write it? As though there were any need for me to have written it! I went scribbling away out of pride, like a noodle! I’ve got myself into this fix out of pride! That is what dignity does for you, you rascal, that is dignity! … Come, what have you done with the letter, you ruffian? To whom did you give it?”

“I didn’t give any one any letter; and I never had any letter … so there!”

Mr. Golyadkin wrung his hands in despair.

“Listen, Pyotr … listen to me, listen to me …”

“I am listening …”

“Where have you been? - answer …”

“Where have I been … I’ve been to see good people! What is it to me!”

“Oh, Lord, have mercy on us! Where did you go, to begin with? Did you go to the department? … Listen, Pyotr, perhaps you’re drunk?”

“Me drunk! If I should be struck on the spot this minute, not a drop, not a drop - so there… .”

“No, no, it’s no matter you’re being drunk… . I only asked; it’s all right your being drunk; I don’t mind, Petrushka, I don’t mind… . Perhaps it’s only that you have forgotten, but you’ll remember it all. Come, try to remember - have you been to that clerk’s, to Vahramyev’s; have you been to him or not?”

“I have not been, and there’s no such clerk. Not if I were this minute …”

“No, no, Pyotr! No, Petrushka, you know I don’t mind. Why, you see I don’t mind… . Come, what happened? To be sure, it’s cold and damp in the street, and so a man has a drop, and it’s no matter. I am not angry. I’ve been drinking myself today, my boy… . Come, think and try and remember, did you go to Vahramyev?”

“Well, then, now, this is how it was, it’s the truth - I did go, if this very minute …”

“Come, that is right, Petrushka, that is quite right that you’ve been. you see I’m not angry… . Come, come,” our hero went on, coaxing his servant more and more, patting him on the shoulder and smiling to him, “come, you had a little nip, you scoundrel… . You had two-penn’orth of something I suppose? You’re a sly rogue! Well, that’s no matter; come, you see that I’m not angry … . I’m not angry, my boy, I’m not angry… .”

“No, I’m not a sly rogue, say what you like… . I only went to see some good friends. I’m not a rogue, and I never have been a rogue… .”

“Oh, no, no, Petrushka; listen, Petrushka, you know I’m not scolding when I called you a rogue. I said that in fun, I said it in a good sense. You see, Petrushka, it is sometimes a compliment to a man when you call him a rogue, a cunning fellow, that he’s a sharp chap and would not let any one take him in. Some men like it … Come, come, it doesn’t matter! Come, tell me, Petrushka, without keeping anything back, openly, as to a friend … did you go to Vahramyev’s, and did he give you the address?”

“He did give me the address, he did give me the address too. He’s a nice gentleman! ‘You master,’ says he, ‘is a nice man,’ says he, ‘very nice man;’ says he, ‘I send my regards,’ says he, ‘to your master, thank him and say that I like him,’ says he - ‘how I do respect your master,’ says he. ‘Because,’ says he, ‘your master, Petrushka,’ says he, ‘is a good man, and you,’ says he, ‘Petrushka, are a good man too … .’”

“Ah, mercy on us! But the address, the address! You Judas!” The last word Mr. Golyadkin uttered almost in a whisper.

“And the address … he did give the address too.”

“He did? Well, where does Golyadkin, the clerk Golyadkin, the titular councillor, live?”

“‘Why,’ says he, ‘Golyadkin will be now at Shestilavotchny Street. When you get into Shestilavotchny Street take the stairs on the right and it’s on the fourth floor. And there,’ says he, ‘you’ll find Golyadkin… .”

“You scoundrel!” our hero cried, out of patience at last. “You’re a ruffian! Why, that’s my address; why, you are talking about me. But there’s another Golyadkin; I’m talking about the other one, you scoundrel!”

“Well, that’s as you please! What is it to me? Have it your own way …”

“And the letter, the letter?” …

“What letter? There wasn’t any letter, and I didn’t see any letter.”

“But what have you done with it, you rascal?”

“I delivered the letter, I delivered it. He sent his regards. ‘Thank you,’ says he, ‘your master’s a nice man,’ says he. ‘Give my regards,’ says he, ‘to your master… .’”

“But who said that? Was it Golyadkin said it?”

Petrushka said nothing for a moment, and then, with a broad grin, he stared straight into his master’s face… .

“Listen, you scoundrel!” began Mr. Golyadkin, breathless, beside himself with fury; “listen, you rascal, what have you done to me? Tell me what you’ve done to me! You’ve destroyed me, you villain, you’ve cut the head off my shoulders, you Judas!”

“Well, have it your own way! I don’t care,” said Petrushka in a resolute voice, retreating behind the screen.

“Come here, come here, you ruffian… .”

“I’m not coming to you now, I’m not coming at all. What do I care, I’m going to good folks… . Good folks live honestly, good folks live without falsity, and they never have doubles… .”

Mr. Golyadkin’s hands and feet went icy cold, his breath failed him… .

“Yes,” Petrushka went on, “they never have doubles. God doesn’t afflict honest folk… .”

“You worthless fellow, you are drunk! Go to sleep now, you ruffian! And tomorrow you’ll catch it,” Mr. Golyadkin added in a voice hardly audible. As for Petrushka, he muttered something more; then he could be heard getting into bed, making the bed creak. After a prolonged yawn, he stretched; and at last began snoring, and slept the sleep of the just, as they say. Mr. Golyadkin was more dead than alive. Petrushka’s behaviour, his very strange hints, which were yet so remote that it was useless to be angry at them, especially as they were uttered by a drunken man, and, in short, the sinister turn taken by the affair altogether, all this shook Mr. Golyadkin to the depths of his being.

“And what possessed me to go for him in the middle of the night?” said our hero, trembling all over from a sickly sensation. “What the devil made me have anything to do with a drunken man! What could I expect from a drunken man? Whatever he says is a lie. But what was he hinting at, the ruffian? Lord, have mercy on us! And why did I write that letter? I’m my own enemy, I’m my own murderer! As if I couldn’t hold my tongue? I had to go scribbling nonsense! And what now! You are going to ruin, you are like an old rag, and yet you worry about your pride; you say, ‘my honour is wounded,’ you must stick up for your honour! Mr own murderer, that is what I am!”

Thus spoke Mr. Golyadkin and hardly dared to stir for terror. At last his eyes fastened upon an object which excited his interest to the utmost. In terror lest the object that caught his attention should prove to be an illusion, a deception of his fancy, he stretched out his hand to it with hope, with dread, with indescribable curiosity… . No, it was not a deception Not a delusion! It was a letter, really a letter, undoubtedly a letter, and addressed to him. Mr. Golyadkin took the letter from the table. His heart beat terribly.

“No doubt that scoundrel brought it,” he thought, “put it there, and then forgot it; no doubt that is how it happened: no doubt that is just how it happened… .”

The letter was from Vahramyev, a young fellow-clerk who had once been his friend. “I had a presentiment of this, thought,” thought our hero, “and I had a presentiment of all that there will be in the letter… .”

The letter was as follows -

“Dear Sir Yakov Petrovitch!

“Your servant is drunk, and there is no getting any sense out of him. For that reason I prefer to reply by letter. I hasten to inform you that the commission you’ve entrusted to me - that is, to deliver a letter to a certain person you know, I agree to carry out carefully and exactly. That person, who is very well known to you and who has taken the place of a friend to me, whose name I will refrain from mentioning (because I do not wish unnecessarily to blacken the reputation of a perfectly innocent man), lodges with us at Karolina Ivanovna’s, in the room in which, when you were among us, the infantry officer from Tambov used to be. That person, however, is always to be found in the company of honest and true-hearted persons, which is more than one can say for some people. I intend from this day to break off all connection with you; it’s impossible for us to remain on friendly terms and to keep up the appearance of comradeship congruous with them. And, therefore, I beg you, dear sir, immediately on the receipt of this candid letter from me, to send me the two roubles you owe me for the razor of foreign make which I sold you seven months ago, if you will kindly remember, when you were still living with us in the lodgings of Karolina Ivanovna, a lady whom I respect from the bottom of my heart. I am acting in this way because you, from the accounts I hear from sensible persons, have lost your dignity and reputation and have become a source of danger to the morals of the innocent and uncontaminated. For some persons are not straightforward, their words are full of falsity and their show of good intentions is suspicious. People can always be found capable of insulting Karolina Ivanovna, who is always irreproachable in her conduct, and an honest woman, and, what’s more, a maiden lady, though no longer young - though, on the other hand, of a good foreign family - and this fact I’ve been asked to mention in this letter by several persons, and I speak also for myself. In any case you will learn all in due time, if you haven’t learnt it yet, though you’ve made yourself notorious from one end of the town to the other, according to the accounts I hear from sensible people, and consequently might well have received intelligence relating to you, my dear sir, that a certain person you know, whose name I will not mention here, for certain honourable reasons, is highly respected by right-thinking people, and is, moreover, of lively and agreeable disposition, and is equally successful in the service and in the society of persons of common sense, is true in word and in friendship, and does not insult behind their back those with whom he is on friendly terms to their face.

“In any case, I remain

“Your obedient servant,

“N. Vahramyev.”

“P.S. You had better dismiss your man: he is a drunkard and probably gives you a great deal of trouble; you had better engage Yevstafy, who used to be in service here, and is not out of a place. Your present servant is not only a drunkard, but, what’s more, he’s a thief, for only last week he sold a pound of sugar to Karolina Ivanovna at less than cost price, which, in my opinion, he could not have done otherwise than by robing you in a very sly way, little by little, at different times. I write this to you for your own good, although some people can do nothing but insult and deceive everybody, especially persons of honesty and good nature; what is more, they slander them behind their back and misrepresent them, simply from envy, and because they can’t call themselves the same.


After reading Vahramyev’s letter our hero remained for a long time sitting motionless on his sofa. A new light seemed breaking through the obscure and baffling fog which had surrounded him for the last two days. Our hero seemed to reach a partial understanding … He tried to get up from the sofa to take a turn about the room, to rouse himself, to collect his scattered ideas, to fix them upon a certain subject and then to set himself to rights a little, to think over his position thoroughly. But as soon as he tried to stand up he fell back again at once, weak and helpless. “Yes, of course, I had a presentiment of all that; how he writes though, and what is the real meaning of his words. Supposing I do understand the meaning; but what is it leading to? He should have said straight out: this and that is wanted, and I would have done it. Things have taken such a turn, things have come to such an unpleasant pass! Oh, if only tomorrow would make haste and come, and I could make haste and get to work! I know now what to do. I shall say this and that, I shall agree with his arguments, I won’t sell my honour, but … maybe; but he, that person we know of, that disagreeable person, how does he come to be mixed up in it? And why has he turned up here? Oh, if tomorrow would make haste and come! They’ll slander me before then, they are intriguing, they are working to spite me! The great thing is not to lose time, and now, for instance, to write a letter, and to say this and that and that I agree to this and that. And as soon as it is daylight tomorrow send it off, before he can do anything … and so checkmate them, get in before them, the darlings… . They will ruin me by their slanders, and that’s the fact of the matter!”

Mr. Golyadkin drew the paper to him, took up a pen and wrote the following missive in answer to the secretary’s letter -

“Dear Sir Nestor Ignatyevitch!

“With amazement mingled with heartfelt distress I have perused your insulting letter to me, for I see clearly that you are referring to me when you speak of certain discreditable persons and false friends. I see with genuine sorrow how rapidly the calumny has spread and how deeply it has taken root, to the detriment of my prosperity, my honour and my good name. And this is the more distressing and mortifying that even honest people of a genuinely noble way of thinking and, what is even more important, of straightforward and open dispositions, abandon the interests of honourable men and with all the qualities of their hearts attach themselves to the pernicious corruption, which in our difficult and immoral age has unhappily increased and multiplied so greatly and so disloyally. In conclusion, I will say that the debt of two roubles of which you remind me I regard as a sacred duty to return to you in its entirety.

“As for your hints concerning a certain person of the female sex, concerning the intentions, calculations and various designs of that person, I can only tell you, sir, that I have but a very dim and obscure understanding of those insinuations. Permit me, sir, to preserve my honourable way of thinking and my good name undefiled, in any case. I am ready to stoop to a written explanation as more secure, and I am, moreover, ready to enter into conciliatory proposals on mutual terms, of course. To that end I beg you, my dear sir, to convey to that person my readiness for a personal arrangement and, what is more, to beg her to fix the time and place of the interview. It grieved me, sir, to read your hints of my having insulted you, having been treacherous to our original friendship and having spoken ill of you. I ascribe this misunderstanding to the abominable calumny, envy and ill-will of those whom I may justly stigmatize as my bitterest foes. But I suppose they do not know that innocence is strong through its very innocence, that the shamelessness, the insolence and the revolting familiarity of some persons, sooner or later gains the stigma of universal contempt; and that such persons come to ruin through nothing but their own worthlessness and the corruption of their own hearts. In conclusion, I beg you, sir, to convey to those persons that their strange pretensions and their dishonourable and fantastic desire to squeeze others out of the position which those others occupy, by their very existence in this world, and to take their place, are deserving of contempt, amazement, compassion and, what is more, the madhouse; moreover, such efforts are severely prohibited by law, which in my opinion is perfectly just, for every one ought to be satisfied with his own position. Every one has his fixed position, and if this is a joke it is a joke in very bad taste. I will say more: it is utterly immoral, for, I make bold to assure you, sir, my own views which I have expounded above, in regard to keeping one’s own place, are purely moral.

“In any case I have the honour to remain,

“Your humble servant,

“Y. Golyadkin.”

Chapter 10

Altogether, we may say, the adventures of the previous day had thoroughly unnerved Mr. Golyadkin. Our hero passed a very bad night; that is, he did not get thoroughly off to sleep for five minutes: as though some practical joker had scattered bristles in his bed. He spent the whole night in a sort of half-sleeping state, tossing from side to side, from right to left, moaning and groaning, dozing off for a moment, waking up again a minute later, and all was accompanied by a strange misery, vague memories, hideous visions - in fact, everything disagreeable that can be imagined… .

At one moment the figure of Andrey Filippovitch appeared before him in a strange, mysterious half-light. It was a frigid, wrathful figure, with a cold, harsh eye and with stiffly polite word of blame on its lips … and as soon as Mr. Golyadkin began going up to Andrey Filippovitch to defend himself in some way and to prove to him that he was not at all such as his enemies represented him, that he was like this and like that, that he even possessed innate virtues of his own, superior to the average - at once a person only too well known for his discreditable behaviour appeared on the scene, and by some most revolting means instantly frustrated poor Mr. Golyadkin’s efforts, on the spot, almost before the latter’s eyes, blackened his reputation, trampled his dignity in the mud, and then immediately took possession of his place in the service and in society.

At another time Mr. Golyadkin’s head felt sore from some sort of slight blow of late conferred and humbly accepted, received either in the course of daily life or somehow in the performance of his duty, against which blow it was difficult to protest … And while Mr. Golyadkin was racking his brains over the question of why it was difficult to protest even against such a blow, this idea of a blow gradually melted away into a different form - into the form of some familiar, trifling, or rather important piece of nastiness which he had seen, heard, or even himself committed - and frequently committed, indeed, and not on nasty ground, not from any nasty impulse, even, but just because it happened - sometimes, for instance, out of delicacy, another time owing to his absolute defencelessness - in fact, because … because, in fact, Mr. Golyadkin knew perfectly well because of what! At this point Mr. Golyadkin blushed in his sleep, and, smothering his blushes, muttered to himself that in this case he ought to be able to show the strength of his character, he ought to be able to show in this case the remarkable strength of his character, and then wound up by asking himself, “What, after all, is strength of character? Why understand it now?” …

But what irritated and enraged Mr. Golyadkin most of all was that invariably, at such a moment, a person well known for his undignified burlesque turned up uninvited, and, regardless of the fact that the matter was apparently settled, he, too, would begin muttering, with an unseemly little smile “What’s the use of strength of character! How could you and I, Yakov Petrovitch, have strength of character? …”

Then Mr. Golyadkin would dream that he was in the company of a number of persons distinguished for their wit and good breeding; that he, Mr. Golyadkin, too, was conspicuous for his wit and politeness, that everybody like him, which was very agreeable to Mr. Golyadkin, too, was conspicuous for his wit and politeness, that everybody liked him, even some of his enemies who were present began to like him, which was very agreeable to Mr. Golyadkin; that every one gave him precedence, and that at last Mr. Golyadkin himself, with gratification, overheard the host, drawing one of the guests aside, speak in his, Mr. Golyadkin’s praise … and all of a sudden, apropos of nothing, there appeared again a person, notorious for his treachery and brutal impulses, in the form of Mr. Golyadkin junior, and on the spot, at once, by his very appearance on the scene, Mr. Golyadkin junior destroyed the whole triumph and glory of Mr. Golyadkin senior, eclipsed Mr. Golyadkin senior, trampled him in the mud, and, at last, proved clearly that Golyadkin senior - that is, the genuine one - was not the genuine one at all but the sham, and that he, Golyadkin junior, was the real one; that, in fact, Mr. Golyadkin senior was not at all what he appeared to be, but something very disgraceful, and that consequently he had no right to mix in the society of honourable and well-bred people. And all this was done so quickly that Mr. Golyadkin had not time to open his mouth before all of them were subjugated, body and soul, by the wicked, sham Mr. Golyadkin, and with profound contempt rejected him, the real and innocent Mr. Golyadkin. There was not one person left whose opinion the infamous Mr. Golyadkin would not have changed round. There was not left one person, even the most insignificant of the company, to whom the false and worthless Mr. Golyadkin would not make up in his blandest manner, upon whom he would not fawn in his own way, before whom he would not burn sweet and agreeable incense, so that the flattered person simply sniffed and sneezed till the tears came, in token of the intensest pleasure. And the worst of it was that all this was done in a flash: the swiftness of movement of the false and worthless Mr. Golyadkin was marvellous! he sincerely had time, for instance, to make up to one person and win his good graces - and before one could wink an eye he was at another. He stealthily fawns on another, drops a smile of benevolence, twirls on his short, round, though rather wooden-looking leg, and already he’s at a third, and is cringing upon a third, he’s making up to him in a friendly way; before one has time to open one’s mouth, before one has time to feel surprised he’s at a fourth, at the same manoeuvres with him - it was horrible: sorcery and nothing else! And every one was pleased with him and everybody liked him, and every one was exalting him, and all were proclaiming in chorus that his politeness and sarcastic wit were infinitely superior to the politeness and sarcastic wit of the real Mr. Golyadkin and putting the real and innocent Mr. Golyadkin to shame thereby and rejecting the veritable Mr. Golyadkin, and shoving and pushing out the loyal Mr. Golyadkin, and showering blows on the man so well known for his love towards his fellow creatures! …

In misery, in terror and in fury, the cruelly treated Mr. Golyadkin ran out into the street and began trying to take a cab in order to drive straight to his Excellency’s, or, at any rate, to Andrey Filippovitch, but - horror! the cabman absolutely refused to take Mr. Golyadkin, saying, “We cannot drive two gentlemen exactly alike, sir; a good man tries to like honestly, your honour, and never has a double.” Overcome with shame, the unimpeachable, honest Mr. Golyadkin looked round and did, in fact, assure himself with his own eyes that the cabman and Petrushka, who had joined them, were all quite right, for the depraved Mr. Golyadkin was actually on the spot, beside him, close at hand, and with his characteristic nastiness was again, at this critical moment, certainly preparing to do something very unseemly, and quite out of keeping with that gentlemanliness of character which is usually acquired by good breeding - that gentlemanliness of which the loathsome Mr. Golyadkin the second was always boasting on every opportunity. Beside himself with shame and despair, the utterly ruined though perfectly just Mr. Golyadkin dashed headlong away, wherever fate might lead him; but with every step he took, with every thud of his foot on the granite of the pavement, there leapt up as though out of the earth a Mr. Golyadkin precisely the same, perfectly alike, and of a revolting depravity of heart. And all these precisely similar Golyadkins set to running after one another as soon as they appeared, and stretched in a long chain like a file of geese, hobbling after the real Mr. Golyadkin, so there was nowhere to escape from these duplicates - so that Mr. Golyadkin, who was in every way deserving of compassion, was breathless with terror; so that at last a terrible multitude of duplicates had sprung into being; so that the whole town was obstructed at last by duplicate Golyadkins, and the police officer, seeing such a breach of decorum, was obliged to seize all these duplicates by the collar and to put them into the watch-house, which happened to be beside him … Numb and chill with horror, our hero woke up, and numb and chill with horror felt that his waking state was hardly more cheerful … It was oppressive and harrowing … He was overcome by such anguish that it seemed as though some one were gnawing at his heart.

At last Mr. Golyadkin could endure it no longer. “This shall not be!” he cried, resolutely sitting up in bed, and after this exclamation he felt fully awake.

It seemed as though it were rather late in the day. It was unusually light in the room. The sunshine filtered through the frozen panes and flooded the room with light, which surprised Mr. Golyadkin not a little and, so far as Mr. Golyadkin could remember, at least, there had scarcely ever been such exceptions in the course of the heavenly luminary before. Our hero had hardly time to wonder at this when he heard the clock buzzing behind the partition as thought it was just on the point of striking. “Now,” thought Mr. Golyadkin, and he prepared to listen with painful suspense… .

But to complete Mr. Golyadkin’s astonishment, clock whirred and only struck once.

“What does this mean?” cried out hero, finally leaping out of bed. And, unable to believe his ears, he rushed behind the screen just as he was. It actually was one o’clock. Mr. Golyadkin glanced at Petrushka’s bed; but the room did not even smell of Petrushka: his bed had long been made and left, his boots were nowhere to be seen either - an unmistakable sign that Petrushka was not in the house. Mr. Golyadkin rushed to the door: the door was locked. “But where is he, where is Petrushka?” he went on in a whisper, conscious of intense excitement and feeling a perceptible tremor run all over him … Suddenly a thought floated into his mind … Mr. Golyadkin rushed to the table, looked all over it, felt all round - yes, it was true, his letter of the night before to Vahramyev was not there. Petrushka was nowhere behind the screen either, the clock had just struck one, and some new points were evident to him in Vahramyev’s letter, points that were obscure at first sight though now they were fully explained. Petrushka had evidently been bribed at last! “Yes, yes, that was so!”

“So this was how the chief plot was hatched!” cried Mr. Golyadkin, slapping himself on the forehead, opening his eyes wider and wider; “so in that filthy German woman’s den the whole power of evil lies hidden now! So she was only making a strategic diversion in directing me to the Ismailovsky Bridge - she was putting me off the scent, confusing me (the worthless witch), and in that way laying her mines! Yes, that is so! If one only looks at the thing from that point of view, all of this is bound to be so, and the scoundrel’s appearance on the scene is fully explained: it’s all part and parcel of the same thing. They’ve kept him in reserve a long while, they had him in readiness for the evil day. This is how it has all turned out! This is what it has come to. But there, never mind. No time has been lost so far.”

At this point Mr. Golyadkin recollected with horror that it was past one in the afternoon. “What if they have succeeded by now? …” He uttered a moan… . “But, no, they are lying, they’ve not had time -we shall see… .”

He dressed after a fashion, seized paper and a pen, and scribbled the following missive -

“Dear Sir Yakov Petrovitch!

“Either you or I, but both together is out of the question! And so I must inform you that your strange, absurd, and at the same time impossible desire to appear to be my twin and to give yourself out as such serves no other purpose than to bring about your complete disgrace and discomfiture. And so I beg you, for the sake of your own advantage, to step aside and make way for really honourable men of loyal aims. In the opposite case I am ready to determine upon extreme measures. I lay down my pen and await … However, I remain ready to oblige or to meet you with pistols.

“Y. Golyadkin.”

Our hero rubbed his hands energetically when he had finished the letter. Then, pulling on his greatcoat and putting on his hat, he unlocked his flat with a spare key and set off for the department. He reached the office but could not make up his mind to go in - it was by now too late. It was half-past two by Mr. Golyadkin’s watch. All at once a circumstance of apparently little importance settled some doubts in Mr. Golyadkin’s mind: a flushed and breathless figure suddenly made its appearance from behind the screen of the department building and with a stealthy movement like a rat he darted up the steps and into the entry. It was a copying clerk called Ostafyev, a man Mr. Golyadkin knew very well, who was rather useful and ready to do anything for a trifle. Knowing Ostafyev’s weak spot and surmising that after his brief, unavoidable absence he would probably be greedier than ever for tips, our hero made up his mind not to be sparing of them, and immediately darted up the steps, and then into the entry after him, called to him and, with a mysterious are, drew him aside into a convenient corner, behind a huge iron stove. And having led him there, our hero began questioning him.

“Well, my dear fellow, how are things going in there … you understand me? …”

“Yes, your honour, I wish you good health, your honour.”

“All right, my good man, all right; but I’ll reward you, my good fellow. Well, you see, how are things?”

“What is your honour asking?” At this point Ostafyev held his hand as though by accident before his open mouth.

“You see, my dear fellow, this is how it is … but don’t you imagine … Come, is Andrey Filippovitch here?…”

“Yes, he is here.”

“And are the clerks here?”

“Yes, sir, they are here as usual.”

“And his Excellency too?”

“And his Excellency too.” Here the man held his hand before his mouth again, and looked rather curiously and strangely at Mr. Golyadkin, so at least our hero fancied.

“And there’s nothing special there, my good man?”

“No, sir, certainly not, sir.”

“So there’s nothing concerning me, my friend. Is there nothing going on there - that is, nothing more than … eh? nothing more, you understand, my friend?”

“No, sir, I’ve heard nothing so far, sir.” Again the man put his hand before his mouth and again looked rather strangely at Mr. Golyadkin. The fact was, Mr. Golyadkin was trying to read Ostafyev’s countenance, trying to discover whether there was not something hidden in it. And, in fact, he did look as though he were hiding something: Ostafyev seemed to grow colder and more churlish, and did not enter into Mr. Golyadkin’s interests with the same sympathy as at the beginning of the conversation. “He is to some extent justified,” thought Mr. Golyadkin. “After all, what am I to him? Perhaps he has already been bribed by the other side, and that’s why he has just been absent. but, here, I’ll try him …” Mr. Golyadkin realized that the moment for kopecks had arrived.

“Here, my dear fellow …”

“I’m feelingly grateful for your honour’s kindness.”

“I’ll give you more than that.”

“Yes, your honour.”

“I’ll give you some more directly, and when the business is over I’ll give you as much again. Do you understand?”

The clerk did not speak. He stood at attention and stared fixedly at Mr. Golyadkin.

“Come, tell me now: have you heard nothing about me? …”

“I think, so far, I have not … so to say … nothing so far.” Ostafyev, like Mr. Golyadkin, spoke deliberately and preserved a mysterious air, moving his eyebrows a little, looking at the ground, trying to fall into the suitable tone, and, in fact, doing his very utmost to earn what had been promised him, for what he had received already he reckoned as already earned.

“And you know nothing?”

“So far, nothing, sir.”

“Listen … you know … maybe you will know …”

“Later on, of course, maybe I shall know.”

“It’s a poor look out,” thought our hero. “Listen: here’s something more, my dear fellow.”

“I am truly grateful to your honour.”

“Was Vahramyev here yesterday? …”

“Yes, sir.”

“And … somebody else? … Was he? … Try and remember, brother.”

The man ransacked his memory for a moment, and could think of nothing appropriate.

“No, sir, there wasn’t anybody else.”

“H’m!” a silence followed.

“Listen, brother, here’s some more; tell me all, every detail.”

“Yes, sir,” Ostafyev had by now become as soft as silk; which was just what Mr. Golyadkin needed.

“Explain to me now, my good man, what footing is he on?”

“All right, sir, a good one, sir,” answered the man, gazing open-eyed at Mr. Golyadkin.

“How do you mean, all right?”

“Well, it’s just like that, sir.” Here Ostafyev twitched his eyebrows significantly. But he was utterly nonplussed and didn’t know what more to say.

“It’s a poor look out,” thought Mr. Golyadkin.

“And hasn’t anything more happened … in there … about Vahramyev?”

“But everything is just as usual.”

“Think a little.”

“There is, they say …”

“Come, what?”

Ostafyev put his hand in front of his mouth.

“Wasn’t there a letter … from here … to me?”

“Mihyeev the attendant went to Vahramyev’s lodging, to their German landlady, so I’ll go and ask him if you like.”

“Do me the favour, brother, for goodness’ sake! … I only mean … you mustn’t imagine anything, brother, I only mean … Yes, you question him, brother, find out whether they are not getting up something concerning me. Find out how he is acting. That is what I want; that is what you must find out, my dear fellow, and then I’ll reward you, my good man… .”

“I will, your honour, and Ivan Semyonovitch sat in your place today, sir.”

“Ivan Semyonovitch? Oh! really, you don’t say so.”

“Andrey Filippovitch told him to sit there.”

“Re-al-ly! How did that happen? You must find out, brother; for God’s sake find out, brother; find it all out - and I’ll reward you, my dear fellow; that’s what I want to know … and don’t you imagine anything, brother… .”

“Just so, sir, just so; I’ll go at once. And aren’t you going in today, sir?”

“No, my friend; I only looked round, I only looked round, you know. I only came to have a look round, my friend, and I’ll reward you afterwards, my friend.”

“Yes, sir.” The man ran rapidly and eagerly up the stairs and Mr. Golyadkin was left alone.

“It’s a poor look out!” he thought. “Eh, it’s a bad business, a bad business! Ech! things are in a bad way with us now! What does it all mean? What did that drunkard’s insinuations mean, for instance, and whose trickery was it? Ah! I know whose it was. And what a thing this is. No doubt they found out and made him sit there… . But, after all, did they sit him there? It was Andrey Filippovitch sat him there and with what object? Probably they found out… . That is Vahramyev’s work - that is, not Vahramyev, he is as stupid as an ashen post, Vahramyev is, and they are all at work on his behalf, and they egged that scoundrel on to come here for the same purpose, and the German woman brought up her grievance, the one-eyed hussy. I always suspected that this intrigue was not without an object and that in all this old-womanish gossip there must be something, and I said as much to Krestyan Ivanovitch, telling him they’d sworn to cut a man’s throat - in a moral sense, of course - and they pounced upon Karolina Ivanovna. Yes, there are master hands at work in this, one can see! Yes, sir, there are master hands at work in this, not Vahramyev’s. I’ve said already that Vahramyev is stupid, but … I know who it is behind it all, it’s that rascal, that impostor! It’s only that he relies upon, which is partly proved by his successes in the best society. And it would certainly be desirable to know on what footing he stands now. What is he now among them? Only, why have they taken Ivan Semyonovitch? What the devil do they want with Ivan Semyonovitch? Could not they have found any one else? Though it would come to the same thing whoever it had been, and the only thing I know is that I have suspected Ivan Semyonovitch for a long time past. I noticed long ago what a nasty, horrid old man he was - they say he lends money and takes interest like any Jew. To be sure, the bear’s the leading spirit in the whole affair. One can detect the bear in the whole affair. It began in this way. It began at the Ismailovsky Bridge; that’s how it began …”

At this point Mr. Golyadkin frowned, as though he had taken a bit out of a lemon, probably remembering something very unpleasant.

“But, there, it doesn’t matter,” he thought. “I keep harping on my own troubles. What will Ostafyev find out? Most likely he is staying on or has been delayed somehow. It is a good thing, in a sense, that I am intriguing like this, and am laying mines on my side too. I’ve only to give Ostafyev ten kopecks and he’s … so to speak, on my side. Only the point is, is he really on my side? Perhaps they’ve got him on their side too … and they are carrying on an intrigue by means of him on their side too. He looks a ruffian, the rascal, a regular ruffian; he’s hiding something, the rogue. ‘No, nothing,’ says he, ‘and I am deeply grateful to your honour.’ says he. You ruffian, you!”

He heard a noise … Mr. Golyadkin shrank up and skipped behind the stove. Some one came down stairs and went out into the street. “Who could that be going away now?” our hero thought to himself. A minute later footsteps were audible again … At this point Mr. Golyadkin could not resist poking the very tip of his nose out beyond his corner - he poked it out and instantly withdrew it again, as though some one had pricked it with a pin. This time some one he knew well was coming - that is the scoundrel, the intriguer and the reprobate - he was approaching with his usual mean, tripping little step, prancing and shuffling with his feet as though he were going to kick some one.

“The rascal,” said our hero to himself.

Mr. Golyadkin could not, however, help observing that the rascal had under his arm a huge green portfolio belonging to his Excellency.

“He’s on a special commission again,” thought Mr. Golyadkin, flushing crimson and shrinking into himself more than ever from vexation.

As soon as Mr. Golyadkin junior had slipped past Mr. Golyadkin senior without observing him in the least, footsteps were heard for the third time, and this time Mr. Golyadkin guessed that these were Ostafyev’s. It was, in fact, the sleek figure of a copying clerk, Pisarenko by name. This surprised Mr. Golyadkin. Why had he mixed up other people in their secret? our hero wondered. What barbarians! nothing is sacred to them! “Well, my friend?” he brought out, addressing Pisarenko: “who sent you, my friend? …”

“I’ve come about your business. There’s no news so far from any one. But should there be any we’ll let you know.”

“And Ostafyev?”

“It was quite impossible for him to come, your honour. His Excellency has walked through the room twice, and I’ve no time to stay.”

“Thank you, my good man, thank you … only, tell me …”

“Upon my word, sir, I can’t stay… . They are asking for us every minute … but if your honour will stay here, we’ll let you know if anything happens concerning your little affair.”

“No, my friend, you just tell me …”

“Excuse me, I’ve no time to stay, sir,” said Pisarenko, tearing himself away from Mr. Golyadkin, who had clutched him by the lapel of his coat. “I really can’t. If your honour will stay here we’ll let you know.”

“In a minute, my good man, in a minute! In a minute, my good fellow! I tell you what, here’s a letter; and I’ll reward you, my good mad.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Try and give it to Mr. Golyadkin my dear fellow.”


“Yes, my man, to Mr. Golyadkin.”

“Very good, sir; as soon as I get off I’ll take it, and you stay here, meanwhile; no one will see you here … “

“No, my good man, don’t imagine … I’m not standing here to avoid being seen. But I’m not going to stay here now, my friend… I’ll be close here in the side of the street. There’s a coffee-house near here; so I’ll wait there, and if anything happens, you let me know about anything, you understand?”

“Very good, sir. Only let me go; I understand.”

“And I’ll reward you,” Mr. Golyadkin called after Pisarenko, when he had at last released him… .”

“The rogue seemed to be getting rather rude,” our hero reflected as he stealthily emerged from behind the stove. “There’s some other dodge here. That’s clear … At first it was one thing and another … he really was in a hurry, though; perhaps there’s a great deal to do in the office. And his Excellency had been through the room twice … How did that happen? … Ough! never mind! it may mean nothing, perhaps; but now we shall see… .”

At this point Mr. Golyadkin was about to open the door, intending to go out into the street, when suddenly, at that very instant, his Excellency’s carriage was opened from within and a gentleman jumped out. This gentleman was no other than Mr. Golyadkin junior, who had only gone out ten minutes before. Mr. Golyadkin senior remembered that the Director’s flat was only a couple of paces away.

“He has been out on a special commission,” our hero thought to himself.

Meanwhile, Mr. Golyadkin junior took out of the carriage a thick green portfolio and other papers. Finally, giving some orders to the coachman, he opened the door, almost ran up against Mr. Golyadkin senior, purposely avoided noticing him, acting in this way expressly to annoy him, and mounted the office staircase at a rapid canter.

“It’s a bad look out,” thought Mr. Golyadkin. “This is what it has come to now! Oh, good Lord! look at him.”

For half a minute our hero remained motionless. At last he made up his mind. Without pausing to think, though he was aware of a violent palpitation of the heart and a tremor in all his limbs, he ran up the stair after his enemy.

“Here goes; what does it matter to me? I have nothing to do with the case,” he thought, taking off his hat, his greatcoat and his goloshes in the entry.

When Mr. Golyadkin walked into his office, it was already getting dusk. Neither Andrey Filippovitch nor Anton Antonovitch were in the room. Both of them were in the Director’s room, handing in reports. The Director, so it was rumoured, was in haste to report to a still higher Excellency. In consequence of this, and also because twilight was coming on, and the office hours were almost over, several of the clerks, especially the younger ones, were, at the moment when our hero entered, enjoying a period of inactivity; gathered together in groups, they were talking, arguing, and laughing, and some of the most youthful - that is, belonging to the lowest grades in the service, had got up a game of pitch-farthing in a corner, by a window. Knowing what was proper, and feeling at the moment a special need to conciliate and get on with them, Mr. Golyadkin immediately approached those with him he used to get on best, in order to wish them good day, and so on. But his colleagues answered his greetings rather strangely. He was unpleasantly impressed by a certain coldness, even curtness, one might almost say severity in their manner. No one shook hands with him. Some simply said, “Good day” and walked away; others barely nodded; one simply turned away and pretended not to notice him; at last some of them - and what mortified Mr. Golyadkin most of all, some of the youngsters of the lowest grades, mere lads who, as Mr. Golyadkin justly observed about them, were capable of nothing but hanging about and playing pitch-farthing at every opportunity - little by little collected round Mr. Golyadkin, formed a group round him and almost barred his way. They all looked at him with a sort of insulting curiosity.

It was a bad sign. Mr. Golyadkin felt this, and very judiciously decided not to notice it. Suddenly a quite unexpected event completely finished him off, as they say, and utterly crushed him.

At the moment most trying to Mr. Golyadkin senior, suddenly, as though by design, there appeared in the group of fellow clerks surrounding him the figure of Mr. Golyadkin junior, gay as ever, smiling a little smile as ever, nimble, too, as ever; in short, mischievous, skipping and tripping, chuckling and fawning, with sprightly tongue and sprightly toe, as always, precisely as he had been the day before at a very unpleasant moment for Mr. Golyadkin senior, for instance.

Grinning, tripping and turning with a smile that seemed to say “good evening,” to every one, he squeezed his way into the group of clerks, shaking hands with one, slapping another on the shoulder, putting his arm round another, explaining to a fourth how he had come to be employed by his Excellency, where he had been, what he had done, what he had brought with him; to the fifth, probably his most intimate friend, he gave a resounding kiss - in fact, everything happened as it had in Mr. Golyadkin’s dream. When he had skipped about to his heart’s content, polished them all off in his usual way, disposed them all in his favour, whether he needed them or not, when he had lavished his blandishments to the delectation of all the clerks, Mr. Golyadkin junior suddenly, and most likely by mistake, for he had not yet had time to notice his senior, held out his hand to Mr. Golyadkin senior also. Probably also by mistake - though he had had time to observe the dishonourable Mr. Golyadkin junior thoroughly, our hero at once eagerly seized the hand so unexpectedly held out to him and pressed it in the warmest and friendliest way, pressed it with a strange, quite unexpected, inner feeling, with a tearful emotion. Whether our hero was misled by the first movement of his worthless foe, or was taken unawares, or, without recognizing it, felt at the bottom of his heart how defenceless he was - it is difficult to say. The fact remains that Mr. Golyadkin senior, apparently knowing what he was doing, of his own free will, before witnesses, solemnly shook hands with him whom he called his mortal foe. But what was the amazement, the stupefaction and fury, what was the horror and the shame of Mr. Golyadkin senior, when his enemy and mortal foe, the dishonourable Mr. Golyadkin junior, noticing the mistake of that persecuted, innocent, perfidiously deceived man, without a trace of shame, of feeling, of compassion or of conscience, pulled his hand away with insufferable rudeness and insolence. What was worse, he shook the hand as though it had been polluted with something horrid; what is more, he spat aside with disgust, accompanying this with a most insulting gesture; worse still, he drew out his handkerchief and, in the most unseemly way, wiped all the fingers that had rested for one moment in the hand of Mr. Golyadkin senior. While he did this Mr. Golyadkin junior looked about him in his characteristic horrid way, took care that every one should see what he was doing, glanced into people’s eyes and evidently tried to insinuate to every one everything that was most unpleasant in regard to Mr. Golyadkin senior. Mr. Golyadkin junior’s revolting behaviour seemed to arouse general indignation among the clerks that surrounded them; even the frivolous youngsters showed their displeasure. A murmur of protest rose on all sides. Mr. Golyadkin could not but discern the general feeling; but suddenly - an appropriate witticism that bubbled from the lips of Mr. Golyadkin junior shattered, annihilated our hero’s last hopes, and inclined the balance again in favour of his deadly and undeserving for.

“He’s our Russian Faublas, gentlemen; allow me to introduce the youthful Faublas,” piped Mr. Golyadkin junior, with his characteristic insolence, pirouetting and threading his way among the clerks, and directing their attention to the petrified though genuine Mr. Golyadkin. “Let us kiss each other, darling,” he went on with insufferable familiarity, addressing the man he had so treacherously insulted. Mr. Golyadkin junior’s unworthy jest seemed to touch a responsive chord, for it contained an artful allusion to an incident with which all were apparently familiar. Our hero was painfully conscious of the hand of his enemies. But he had made up his mind by now. With glowing eyes, with pale face, with a fixed smile he tore himself somehow out of the crowd and with uneven, hurried steps made straight for his Excellency’s private room. In the room next to the last he was met by Andrey Filippovitch, who had only just come out from seeing his Excellency, and although there were present in this room at the moment a good number of persons of whom Mr. Golyadkin knew nothing, yet out hero did not care to take such a fact into consideration. Boldly, resolutely, directly, almost wondering at himself and inwardly admiring his own courage, without loss of time he accosted Andrey Filippovitch, who was a good deal surprised by the unexpected attack.

“Ah! … What is it … what do you want?” asked the head of the division, not hearing Mr. Golyadkin’s hesitation words.

“Andrey Filippovitch, may … might I, Andrey Filippovitch, may I have a conversation with his Excellency at once and in private?” our hero said resolutely and distinctly, fixing the most determined glance on Andrey Filippovitch.

“What next! of course not.” Andrey Filippovitch scanned Mr. Golyadkin from head to foot.

“I say all this, Andrey Filippovitch, because I am surprised that no-one here unmasks the imposter and scoundrel.”


“Scoundrel, Andrey Filippovitch!”

“Of whom are you pleased to speak in those terms?”

“Of a certain person, Andrey Filippovitch; I’m alluding, Andrey Filippovitch, to a certain person; I have the right … I imagine, Andrey Filippovitch, that the authorities would surely encourage such action,” added Mr. Golyadkin, evidently hardly knowing what he was saying. “Andrey Filippovitch … but no doubt you see yourself, Andrey Filippovitch, that this honourable action is a mark of my loyalty in every way - of my looking upon my superior as a father, Andrey Filippovitch; I as much as to say look upon my benevolent superior as a father and blindly trust my fate to him. It’s as much as to say … you see … ” At this point Mr. Golyadkin’s voice trembled and two tears ran down his eyelashes.

As Andrey Filippovitch listened to Mr. Golyadkin he was so astonished that he could not help stepping back a couple of paces. Then he looked about him uneasily … It is difficult to say how the matter would have ended. But suddenly the door of his Excellency’s room was opened, and he himself came out, accompanied by several officials. All the persons in his room followed in a string. His Excellency called to Andrey Filippovitch and walked beside him, beginning to discuss some business details. When all had set off and gone out of the room, Mr. Golyadkin woke up. Growing calmer, he took refuge under the wing of Anton Antonovitch, who came last in the procession and who, Mr. Golyadkin fancied, looked stern and anxious. “I’ve been talking nonsense, I’ve been making a mess of it again, but there, never mind,” he thought.

“I hope, at least, that you, Anton Antonovitch will consent to listen to me and to enter into my position,” he said quietly, in a voice that still trembled a little. “Rejected by all, I appeal to you. I am still at a loss to understand what Andrey Filippovitch’s words mean, Anton Antonovitch. Explain them to me if you can …”

“Everything will be explained in due time,” Anton Antonovitch replied sternly and emphatically, and as Mr. Golyadkin fancied with an air that give him plainly to understand that Anton Antonovitch did not wish to continue the conversation. “You will soon know all about it. You will be officially informed about everything today.”

“What do you mean by officially informed, Anton Antonovitch? Why officially?” our hero asked timidly.

“It is not for you and me to discuss what our superiors decide upon, Yakov Petrovitch.”

“Why our superiors, Anton Antonovitch?” said our hero, still more intimidate; “why our superiors? I don’t see what reason there is to trouble our superiors in the matter, Anton Antonovitch … Perhaps you mean to say something about yesterday’s doings, Anton Antonovitch?”

“Oh no, nothing to do with yesterday; there’s something else amiss with you.”

“What is there amiss, Anton Antonovitch? I believe, Anton Antonovitch, that I have done nothing amiss.”

“Why, you were meaning to be sly with some one,” Anton Antonovitch cut in sharply, completely flabbergasting Mr. Golyadkin.

Mr. Golyadkin started, and turned as white as a pocket-handkerchief.

“Of course, Anton Antonovitch,” he said, in a voice hardly audible, “if one listens to the voice of calumny and hears one’s enemies’ tales, without heeding what the other side has to say in its defence, then, of course … then, of course, Anton Antonovitch, one must suffer innocently and for nothing.”

“To be sure; but your unseemly conduct, in injuring the reputation of a virtuous young lady belonging to that benevolent, highly distinguished and well-known family who had befriended you …”

“What conduct do you mean, Anton Antonovitch?”

“What I say. Do you know anything about your praiseworthy conduct in regard to that other young lady who, though poor, is of honourable foreign extraction?”

“Allow me, Anton Antonovitch … if you would kindly listen to me, Anton Antonovitch …”

“And your treacherous behaviour and slander of another person, your charging another person with your own sins. Ah, what do you call that?”

“I did not send him away, Anton Antonovitch,” said our hero, with a tremor; “and I’ve never instructed Petrushka, my man, to do anything of the sort … He has eaten my bread, Anton Antonovitch, he has taken advantage of my hospitality,” our hero added expressively and with deep emotion, so much so that his chin twitched a little and tears were ready to start again.

“That is only your talk, that he has eaten your bread,” answered Anton Antonovitch, somewhat offended, and there was a perfidious note in his voice which sent a pang to Mr. Golyadkin’s heart.

“Allow me most humbly to ask you again, Anton Antonovitch, is his Excellency aware of all this business?”

“Upon my word, you must let me go now, though. I’ve not time for you now… . You’ll know everything you need to know today.”

“Allow me, for God’s sake, one minute, Anton Antonovitch.”

“Tell me afterwards…”

“No, Anton Antonovitch; I … you see, Anton Antonovitch … only listen … I am not one for freethinking, Anton Antonovitch; I shun freethinking; I am quite ready for my part … and, indeed, I’ve given up that idea… .”

“Very good, very good. I’ve heard that already.”

“No, you have not heard it, Anton Antonovitch. It is something else, Anton Antonovitch: it’s a good thing, really, a good thing and pleasant to hear … As I’ve explained to you, Anton Antonovitch, I admit that idea, that divine Providence has created two men exactly alike, and that a benevolent government, seeing the hand of Providence, provided a berth for two twins. That is a good thing, Anton Antonovitch, and that I am very far from freethinking. I look upon my benevolent government as a father; I say ‘yes,’ by all means; you are benevolent authorities, and you, of course … A young man must be in the service … Stand up for me, Anton Antonovitch, take my part, Anton Antonovitch … I am all right … Anton Antonovitch, for God’s sake, one little word more… . Anton Antonovitch… .”

But by now Anton Antonovitch was far away from Mr. Golyadkin … Our hero was so bewildered and overcome by all that had happened and all that he had heard that he did not know where he was standing, what he had heard, what he had done, what was being done to him, and what was going to be done to him.

With imploring eyes he sought for Anton Antonovitch in the crowd of clerks, that he might justify himself further in his eyes and say something to him extremely high toned and very agreeable, and creditable to himself… . By degrees, however, a new light began to break upon our hero’s bewildered mind, a new and awful light that revealed at once a whole perspective of hitherto unknown and utterly unsuspected circumstances … At that moment somebody gave our bewildered hero a poke in the ribs. He looked around. Pisarenko was standing before him.

“A letter, your honour.”

“Ah, you’ve been taken out already, my good man?”

“No, it was brought at ten o’clock this morning. Sergey Mihyeev, the attendant, brought it form Mr. Vahramyev’s lodging.”

“Very good, very good, and I’ll reward you now, my dear fellow.”

Saying this, Mr. Golyadkin thrust the letter in his side pocket of his uniform and buttoned up every button of it; then he looked round him, and to his surprise, found that he was by now in the hall of the department in a group of clerks crowding at the outer door, for office hours were over. Mr. Golyadkin had not only failed till that moment to observe this circumstance, but had no notion how he suddenly came to be wearing his greatcoat and goloshes and to be holding his hat in his hand. All the clerks were motionless, in reverential expectation. The fact was that his Excellency was standing at the bottom of the stairs waiting for his carriage, which was for some reason late in arriving, and was carrying on a very interesting conversation with Andrey Filippovitch and two councillors. At a little distance from Andrey Filippovitch stood Anton Antonovitch and several other clerks, who were all smiles, seeing that his Excellency was graciously making a joke. The clerks who were crowded at the top of the stair were smiling too, in expectation of his Excellency’s laughing again. The only one who was not smiling was Fedosyevitch, the corpulent hall-porter, who stood stiffly at attention, holding the handle of the door, waiting impatiently for the daily gratification that fell to his share - that is, the task of flinging one half of the door wide open with a swing of his arm, and then, with a low bow, reverentially making way for his Excellency to pass. But the one who seemed to be more delighted than any and to feel the most satisfaction of all was the worthless and ungentlemanly enemy of Mr. Golyadkin. At that instant he positively forgot all the clerks, and even gave up tripping and pirouetting in his usual odious way; he even forgot to make up to anybody. He was all eyes and ears, he even doubled himself up strangely, no doubt in the strained effort to hear, and never took his eyes off his Excellency, and only from time to time his arms, legs and head twitched with faintly perceptible tremors that betrayed the secret emotions of his soul.

“Ah, isn’t he in a state!” thought our hero; “he looks like a favourite, the rascal! I should like to know how it is that he deceives society of every class. He has neither brains nor character, neither education nor feeling; he’s a lucky rogue! Mercy on us! How can a man, when you think of it, come and make friends with every one so quickly! And he’ll get on, I swear the fellow will get on, the rogue will make his way - he’s a lucky rascal! I should like to know, too, what he keeps whispering to every one - what plots he is hatching with all these people, and what secrets they are talking about? Lord, have mercy on us! If only I could … get on with them a little too … say this and that and the other. Hadn’t I better ask him … tell him I won’t do it again; say ‘I’m in fault, and a young man must serve nowadays, your Excellency’? I am not going to protest in any way, either; I shall bear it all with meekness and patience, so there! Is that the way to behave? … Though you’ll never see through him, though, the rascal; you can’t reach him with anything you say; you can’t hammer reason into his head … We’ll make an effort, though. I may happen to hit on a good moment, so I’ll make an effort… .”

Feeling in his uneasiness, his misery and his bewilderment that he couldn’t leave things like this, that the critical moment had come, that he must explain himself to some one, our hero began to move a little towards the place where his worthless and undeserving enemy stood: but at that very moment his Excellency’s long-expected carriage rolled up into the entrance, Fedosyevitch flung open the door and, bending double, let his Excellency pass out. All the waiting clerks streamed out towards the door, and for a moment separated Mr. Golyadkin senior from Mr. Golyadkin junior.

“You shan’t get away!” said our hero, forcing his way through the crowd while he kept his eyes fixed upon the man he wanted. At last the crowd dispersed. Our hero felt he was free and flew in pursuit of his enemy.

Chapter 11

Mr. Golyadkin’s breath failed him; he flew as though on wings after his rapidly retreating enemy. He was conscious of immense energy. Yet in spite of this terrible energy he might confidently have said that at that moment a humble gnat - had a gnat been able to exist in Petersburg at that time of the year - could very easily have knocked him down. He felt, too, that he was utterly weak again, that he was carried along by a peculiar outside force, that it was not he himself who was funning, but, on the contrary, that his legs were giving way under him, and refused to obey him. This all might turn out for the best, however.

“Whether it is for the best or not for the best,” thought Mr. Golyadkin, almost breathless from running so quickly, “but that the game is lost there cannot be the slightest doubt now; that I am utterly done for is certain, definite, signed and ratified.”

In spite of all this our hero felt as though he had risen from the dead, as though he had withstood a battalion, as though he had won a victory when he succeeded in clutching the overcoat of his enemy, who had already raised one foot to get into the cab he had engaged.

“My dear sir! My dear sir!” he shouted to the infamous Mr. Golyadkin junior, holding him by the button. “My dear sir, I hope that you …”

“No, please do not hope for anything,” Mr. Golyadkin’s heartless enemy answered evasively, standing with one foot on the step of the cab and vainly waving the other leg in the air, in his efforts to get in, trying to preserve his equilibrium, and at the same time trying with all his might to wrench his coat away from Mr. Golyadkin senior, while the latter held on to it with all the strength that had been vouchsafed to him by nature.

“Yakov Petrovitch, only ten minutes …”

“Excuse me, I’ve no time …”

“You must admit, Yakov Petrovitch … please, Yakov Petrovitch … For God’s sake, Yakov Petrovitch … let us have it out - in a straightforward way … one little second, Yakov Petrovitch …

“My dear fellow, I can’t stay,” answered Mr. Golyadkin’s dishonourable enemy, with uncivil familiarity, disguised as good-natured heartiness; “another time, believe me, with my whole soul and all my heart; but now I really can’t …”

“Scoundrel!” thought our hero. “Yakov Petrovitch,” he cried miserably. “I have never been your enemy. Spiteful people have described me unjustly … I am ready, on my side … Yakov Petrovitch, shall we go in here together, at once, Yakov Petrovitch? And with all my heart, as you have so justly expressed it just now, and in straightforward, honourable language, as you have expressed it just now - here into this coffee-house; there the facts will explain themselves: they will really, Yakov Petrovitch. Then everything will certainly explain itself …”

“Into the coffee-house? Very good. I am not against it. Let us go into the coffee-house on one condition only, my dear, on one condition - that these things shall be cleared up. We will have it out, darling,” said Mr. Golyadkin junior, getting out of the cab and shamelessly slapping our hero on the shoulder; “You friend of my heart, for your sake, Yakov Petrovitch, I am ready to go by the back street (as you were pleased to observe so aptly on one occasion, Yakov Petrovitch). Why, what a rogue he is! Upon my word, he does just what he likes with one!” Mr. Golyadkin’s false friend went on, fawning upon him and cajoling him with a little smile. The coffee-house which the two Mr. Golyadkins entered stood some distance away from the main street and was at the moment quite empty. A rather stout German woman made her appearance behind the counter. Mr. Golyadkin and his unworthy enemy went into the second room, where a puffy-looking boy with a closely shaven head was busy with a bundle of chips at the stove, trying to revive the smouldering fire. At Mr. Golyadkin junior’s request chocolate was served.

“And a sweet little lady-tart,” said Mr. Golyadkin junior, with a sly wink at Mr. Golyadkin senior.

Our hero blushed and was silent.

“Oh, yes, I forgot, I beg your pardon. I know your taste. We are sweet on charming little Germans, sir; you and I are sweet on charming and agreeable little Germans, aren’t we, you upright soul? We take their lodgings, we seduce their morals, they win our hearts with their beersoup and their milksoup, and we give them notes of different sorts, that’s what we do, you Faublas, you deceiver!” All this Mr. Golyadkin junior said, making an unworthy though villainously artful allusion to a certain personage of the female sex, while he fawned upon our hero, smiled at him with an amiable air, with a deceitful show of being delighted with him and pleased to have met him. Seeing that Mr. Golyadkin senior was by no means so stupid and deficient in breeding and the manners of good society as to believe in him, the infamous man resolved to change his tactics and to make a more upon attack upon him. After uttering his disgusting speech, the false Mr. Golyadkin ended by slapping the real and substantial Mr. Golyadkin on the shoulder, with a revolting effrontery and familiarity. Not content with that, he began playing pranks utterly unfit for well-bred society; he took it into his head to repeat his old, nauseous trick - that is, regardless of the resistance and faint cries of the indignant Mr. Golyadkin senior, he pinched the latter on the cheek. At the spectacle of such depravity our hero boiled within, but was silent … only for the time, however.

“That is the talk of my enemies,” he answered at last, in a trembling voice, prudently restraining himself. At the same time our hero looked round uneasily towards the door. The fact was that Mr. Golyadkin junior seemed in excellent spirits, and ready for all sorts of little jokes, unseemly in a public place, and, speaking generally, not permissible by the laws of good manners, especially in well-bred society.

“Oh, well, in that case, as you please,” Mr. Golyadkin junior gravely responded to our hero’s thought, setting down upon the table the empty cup which he had gulped down with unseemly greed. “Well, there’s no need for me to stay long with you, however… . Well, how are you getting on now, Yakov Petrovitch?”

“There’s only one thing I can tell you, Yakov Petrovitch,” our hero answered, with sangfroid and dignity; “I’ve never been your enemy.”

“H’m … Oh, what about Petrushka? Petrushka is his name, I fancy? Yes, it is Petrushka! Well, how is he? Well? The same as ever?”

“He’s the same as ever, too, Yakov Petrovitch,” answered Mr. Golyadkin senior, somewhat amazed. “I don’t know, Yakov Petrovitch … from my standpoint … from a candid, honourable standpoint, Yakov Petrovitch, you must admit, Yakov Petrovitch… .”

“Yes, but you know yourself, Yakov Petrovitch,” Mr. Golyadkin junior answered in a soft and expressive voice, so posing falsely as a sorrowful man overcome with remorse and deserving compassion. “You know yourself as we live in difficult time … I appeal to you, Yakov Petrovitch; you are an intelligent man and your reflections are just,” Mr. Golyadkin junior said in conclusion, flattering Mr. Golyadkin senior in an abject way. “Life is not a game, you know yourself, Yakov Petrovitch,” Mr. Golyadkin junior added, with vast significance, assuming the character of a clever and learned man, who is capable of passing judgements on lofty subjects.

“For my part, Yakov Petrovitch,” our hero answered warmly, “for my part, scorning to be roundabout and speaking boldly and openly, using straightforward, honourable language and putting the whole matter on an honourable basis, I tell you I can openly and honourably assert, Yakov Petrovitch, that I am absolutely pure, and that, you know it yourself, Yakov Petrovitch, the error is mutual - it may all be the world’s judgment, the opinion of the slavish crowd… . I speak openly, Yakov Petrovitch, everything is possible. I will say, too, Yakov Petrovitch, if you judge it in this way, if you look at the matter from a lofty, noble point of view, then I will boldly say, without false shame I will say, Yakov Petrovitch, it will positively be a pleasure to me to discover that I have been in error, it will positively be a pleasure to me to recognize it. You know yourself you are an intelligent man and, what is more, you are a gentleman. Without shame, without false shame, I am ready to recognize it,” he wound up with dignity and nobility.

“It is the decree of destiny, Yakov Petrovitch … but let us drop all this,” said Mr. Golyadkin junior. “Let us rather use the brief moment of our meeting for a more pleasant and profitable conversation, as is only suitable between two colleagues in the service … Really, I have not succeeded in saying two words to you all this time… . I am not to blame for that, Yakov Petrovitch… .”

“Nor I,” answered our hero warmly, “nor I, either! My heart tells me, Yakov Petrovitch, that I’m not to blame in all this matter. Let us blame fate for all this, Yakov Petrovitch,” added Mr. Golyadkin senior, in a quick, conciliatory tone of voice. His voice began little by little to soften and to quaver.

“Well! How are you in health?” said the sinner in a sweet voice.

“I have a little cough,” answered our hero, even more sweetly.

“Take care of yourself. There is so much illness going about, you may easily get quinsy; for my part I confess I’ve begun to wrap myself up in flannel.”

“One may, indeed, Yakov Petrovitch, very easily get quinsy,” our hero pronounced after a brief silence; “Yakov Petrovitch, I see that I have made a mistake, I remember with softened feelings those happy moments which we were so fortunate as to spend together, under my poor, though I venture to say, hospitable roof …”

“In your letter, however, you wrote something very different,” said Mr. Golyadkin junior reproachfully, speaking on this occasion - though only on this occasion - quite justly.

“Yakov Petrovitch, I was in error… . I see clearly now that I was in error in my unhappy letter too. Yakov Petrovitch, I am ashamed to look at you, Yakov Petrovitch, you wouldn’t believe … Give me that letter that I may tear it to pieces before your eyes, Yakov Petrovitch, and if that is utterly impossible I entreat you to read it the other way before - precisely the other way before - that is, expressly with a friendly intention, giving the opposite sense to the whole letter. I was in error. Forgive me, Yakov Petrovitch, I was quite … I was grievously in error, Yakov Petrovitch.”

“You say so?” Mr. Golyadkin’s perfidious friend inquired, rather casually and indifferently.

“I say that I was quite in error, Yakov Petrovitch, and that for my part, quite without false shame, I am …”

“Ah, well, that’s all right! That’s a nice thing your being in error,” answered Mr. Golyadkin junior.

“I even had an idea, Yakov Petrovitch,” our candid hero answered in a gentlemanly way, completely failing to observe the horrible perfidy of his deceitful enemy; “I even had an idea that here were two people created exactly alike… .”

“Ah, is that your idea?”

At this point the notoriously worthless Mr. Golyadkin took up his hat. Still failing to observe his treachery, Mr. Golyadkin senior, too, got up and with a noble, simple-hearted smile to his false friend, tried in his innocence to be friendly to him , to encourage him, and in that way to form a new friendship with him.

“Good-bye, your Excellency,” Mr. Golyadkin junior called out suddenly. Our hero started, noticing in his enemy’s face something positively Bacchanalian, and, solely to get rid of him, put two fingers into the unprincipled man’s outstretched hand; but then … then his enemy’s shameless ness passed all bounds. Seizing the two fingers of Mr. Golyadkin’s hand and at first pressing them, the worthless fellow on the spot, before Mr. Golyadkin’s eyes, had the effrontery to repeat the shameful joke of the morning. The limit of human patience was exhausted.

He had just hidden in his pocket the handkerchief with which he had wiped his fingers when Mr. Golyadkin senior recovered from the shock and dashed after him into the next room, into which his irreconcilable foe had in his usual hasty way hastened to decamp. As though perfectly innocent, he was standing at the counter eating pies, and with perfect composure, like a virtuous man, was making polite remarks to the German woman behind the counter.

“I can’t go into it before ladies,” thought our hero, and he, too, went up to the counter, so agitated that he hardly knew what he was doing.

“The tart is certainly not bad! What do you think?” Mr. Golyadkin junior began upon his unseemly sallies again, reckoning, no doubt, upon Mr. Golyadkin’s infinite patience. The stout German, for her part, looked at both her visitors with pewtery, vacant-looking eyes, smiling affably and evidently not understanding Russian. Our hero flushed red as fire at the words of the unabashed Mr. Golyadkin junior, and, unable to control himself, rushed at him with the evident intention of tearing him to pieces and finishing him off completely, but Mr. Golyadkin junior, in his usual mean way, was already far off; he took flight, he was already on the steps. It need hardly be said that, after the first moment of stupefaction with which Mr. Golyadkin senior was naturally overcome, he recovered himself and went at full speed after his insulting enemy, who had already got into a cab, whose driver was obviously in collusion with him. But at that very instant the stout German, seeing both her customers make off, shrieked and rang her bell with all her might. Our hero was on the point of flight, but he turned back, and, without asking for change, flung her money for himself and for the shameless man who had left without paying, and although thus delayed he succeeded in catching up his enemy. Hanging on to the side of the cab with all the force bestowed on him by nature, our hero was carried for some time along the street, clambering upon the vehicle, while Mr. Golyadkin junior did his utmost to dislodge him. Meanwhile the cabman, with whip, with reins, with kicks and with shouts urged on his exhausted nag, who quite unexpectedly dropped into a gallop, biting at the bit, and kicking with his hind legs in a horrid way. At last our enemy and with his back to the driver, his knees touching the knees and his right hand clutching the very shabby fur collar of his depraved and exasperated foe.

The enemies were borne along for some time in silence. Our hero could scarcely breathe. It was a bad road and he was jolted at every step and in peril of breaking his neck. Moreover, his exasperated foe still refused to acknowledge himself vanquished and was trying to shove him off into the mud. To complete the unpleasantness of his position the weather was detestable. The snow was falling in heavy flakes and doing its utmost to creep under the unfastened overcoat of the genuine Mr. Golyadkin. It was foggy and nothing could be seen. It was difficult to tell through what street and in what direction they were being taken … It seemed to Mr. Golyadkin that what was happening to him was somehow familiar. One instant he tried to remember whether he had had a presentiment of it the day before, in a dream, for instance… .

At last his wretchedness reached the utmost pitch of agony. Leaning upon his merciless opponent, he was beginning to cry out. But his cries died away upon his lips… . There was a moment when Mr. Golyadkin forgot everything, and made up his mind that all this was of no consequence and that it was all nothing, that it was happening in some inexplicable manner, and that, therefore, to protest was effort thrown away… . But suddenly and almost at the same instant that our hero was drawing this conclusion, an unexpected jolt have quite a new turn to the affair. Mr. Golyadkin fell off the cab like a sack of flour and rolled on the ground, quite correctly recognizing, at the moment of his fall, that his excitement had been very inappropriate. Jumping up at last, he saw that they had arrived somewhere; the cab was standing in the middle of some courtyard, and from the first glance our hero noticed that it was the courtyard of the house in which was Olsufy Ivanovitch’s flat. At the same instant he noticed that his enemy was mounting the steps, probably on his way to Olsufy Ivanovitch’s. In indescribable misery he was about to pursue his enemy, but, fortunately for himself, prudently thought better of it. Not forgetting to pay the cabman, Mr. Golyadkin ran with all his might along the street, regardless of where he was going. The snow was falling heavily as before; as before it was muggy, wet, and dark. Out hero did not walk, but flew, coming into collision with every one on the way - men, women and children. About him and after him he heard frightened voices, squeals, screams … But Mr. Golyadkin seemed unconscious and would pay no heed to anything… . He came to himself, however, on Semyonovsky Bridge, and then only through succeeding in tripping against and upsetting two peasant women and the wares they were selling, and tumbling over them.

“That’s no matter,” thought Mr. Golyadkin, “that can easily be set right,” and felt in his pocket at once, intending to make up for the cakes, apples, nuts and various trifles he had scattered with a rouble. Suddenly a new light dawned upon Mr. Golyadkin; in his pocket he felt the letter given him in the morning by the clerk. Remembering that there was a tavern he knew close by, he ran to it without a moment’s delay, settled himself at a little table lighted up by a tallow candle, and, taking no notice of anything, regardless of the waiter who came to ask for his orders, broke the seal and began reading the following letter, which completely astounded him -

“You noble man, who are suffering for my sake, and will be dear to my heart for ever!

“I am suffering, I am perishing - save me! The slanderer, the intriguer, notorious for the immorality of his tendencies, has entangled me in his snares and I am undone! I am lost! But he is abhorrent to me, while you! … They have separated us, they have intercepted my letters to you - and all this has been the vicious man who has taken advantage of his one good quality - his likeness to you. A man can always be plain in appearance, yet fascinate by his intelligence, his strong feelings and his agreeable manners … I am ruined! I am being married against my will, and the chief part in this intrigue is taken by my parent, benefactor and civil councillor, Olsufy Ivanovitch, no doubt desirous of securing me a place and relations in well-bred society… . But I have made up my mind and I protest by all the powers bestowed on me by nature. Be waiting for me with a carriage at nine o’clock this evening at the window of Olsufy Ivanovitch’s flat. We are having another ball and a handsome lieutenant is coming. I will come out and we will fly. Moreover, there are other government offices in which one can be of service to one’s country. In any case, remember, my friend, that innocence is strong in its very innocence. Farewell. Wait with the carriage at the entrance. I shall throw myself into the protection of your arms at two o’clock in the night.

“Yours till death,

“Klara Olsufyevna.”

After reading the letter our hero remained for some minutes as though petrified. In terrible anxiety, in terrible agitation, white as a sheet, with the letter in his hand, he walked several times up and down the room; to complete the unpleasantness of his position, though our hero failed to observe it, he was at that moment the object of the exclusive attention of every one in the room, his gesticulating with both hands, perhaps some enigmatic words unconsciously addressed to the air, probably all this prejudiced Mr. Golyadkin in the opinion of the customers, and even the waiter began to look at him suspiciously. Coming to himself, Mr. Golyadkin noticed that he was standing in the middle of the room and was in an almost unseemly, discourteous manner staring at an old man of very respectable appearance who, having dined and said grace before the ikon, had sat down again and fixed his eyes upon Mr. Golyadkin. Our hero looked vaguely about him and noticed that every one, actually every one, was looking at him with a hostile and suspicious air. All at once a retired military man in a red collar asked loudly for the Police News. Mr. Golyadkin started and turned crimson: he happened to look down and saw that he was in such disorderly attire as he would not have worn even at home, much less in a public place. His boots, his trousers and the whole of his left side were covered with mud; the trouser-strap was torn off his right foot, and his coat was even torn in many places. In extreme misery our hero went up to the table at which he had read the letter, ad saw that the attendant was coming up to him with a strange and impudently peremptory expression of face. utterly disconcerted and crestfallen, our hero began to look about the table at which he was now standing. On the table stood a dirt plate, left there from somebody’s dinner, a soled table-napkin and a knife, fork and spoon that had just been used. “Who has been having dinner?” thought our hero. “Can it have been I? Anything is possible! I must have had dinner without noticing it; what am I to do?”

Raising his eyes, Mr. Golyadkin again saw beside him the waiter who was about to address him.

“How much is my bill, my lad?” our hero inquired, in a trembling voice.

A loud laugh sounded round Mr. Golyadkin, the waiter himself grinned. Mr. Golyadkin realized that he had blundered again, and had done something dreadfully stupid. He was overcome by confusion, and to avoid standing there with nothing to do he put his hand in his pocket to get out his handkerchief; but to the indescribable amazement of himself and all surrounding him, he pulled out instead of his handkerchief the bottle of medicine which Krestyan Ivanovitch had prescribed for him four days earlier. “Get the medicine at the same chemist’s,” floated through Mr. Golyadkin’s brain… .

Suddenly he started and almost cried out in horror. A new light dawned… . The dark reddish and repulsive liquid had a sinister gleam to Mr. Golyadkin’s eyes… . The bottle dropped from his hands and was instantly smashed. Our hero cried out and stepped back a pace to avoid the spilled medicine … he was trembling in every limb, and drops of sweat came out on to his brow and temples. “So my life is in danger!” Meantime there was a stir, a commotion in the room; every one surrounded Mr. Golyadkin, every one talked to Mr. Golyadkin, some even caught hold of Mr. Golyadkin. But our hero was dumb and motionless, seeing nothing, hearing nothing, feeling nothing… . At last, as though tearing himself from the place, he rushed out of the tavern, pushing away all and each who tried to detain him; almost unconscious, he got into the first cab that passed him and drove to his flat.

In the entry of his flat he met Mihyeev, an attendant from the office, with an official envelope in his hand.

“I know, my good man, I know all about it,” our exhausted hero answered, in a weak, miserable voice; “it’s official …”

The envelope did, in fact, contain instructions to Mr. Golyadkin, signed by Andrey Filippovitch, to give up the business in his hands to Ivan Semyonovitch. Taking the envelope and giving ten kopecks to the man, Mr. Golyadkin went into his flat and saw that Petrushka was collecting all his odds and ends, all his things into a heap, evidently intending to abandon Mr. Golyadkin and move to the flat of Karolina Ivanovna, who had enticed him to take the place of Yevstafy.

Chapter 12

Petrushka came in swaggering, with a strangely casual manner and an air of vulgar triumph on his face. It was evident that he had some idea in his head, that he felt thoroughly within his rights, and he looked like an unconcerned spectator - that is, as though he were anybody’s servant rather than Mr. Golyadkin’s.

“I say, you know, my good lad,” our hero began breathlessly, “what time is it?”

Without speaking, Petrushka went behind his partition, then returned, and in a rather independent tone announced that it was nearly half-past seven.

“Well, that’s all right, my lad, that’s all right. Come, you see, my boy … allow me to tell you, my good lad, that everything, I fancy, is at an end between us.”

Petrushka said nothing.

“Well, now as everything is over between us, tell me openly, as a friend, where you have been.”

“Where I’ve been? To see good people, sir.”

“I know, my good lad, I know. I have always been satisfied with you, and I give you a character … Well, what are you doing with them now?”

“Why, sir! You know yourself. We all know a decent man won’t teach you any harm.”

“I know, my dear fellow, I know. Nowadays good people are rare, my lad; prize them, my friend. Well, how are they?”

“To be sure, they … Only I can’t serve you any longer, sir; as your honour must know.”

“I know, my dear fellow, I know your zeal and devotion; I have seen it all, my lad, I’ve noticed it. I respect you, my friend. I respect a good and honest man, even though he’s a lackey.”

“Why, yes, to be sure! The like’s of us, of course, as you know yourself, are as good as anybody. That’s so. We all know, sir, that there’s no getting on without a good man.”

“Very well, very well, my boy, I feel it… . Come, here’s your money and here’s your character. Now we’ll kiss and say good-bye, brother… . Come, now, my lad, I’ll ask one service of you, one last service,” said Mr. Golyadkin, in a solemn voice. “You see, my dear boy, all sorts of things happen. Sorrow is concealed in gilded palaces, and there’s no escaping it. You know, my boy, I’ve always been kind to you, my boy.

Petrushka remained mute.

“I believe I’ve always been kind to you, my dear fellow … Come, how much linen have we now, my dear boy?”

“Well, it’s all there. Linen shirts six, three pairs of socks; four shirtfronts; flannel vests; of underlinen two sets. You know all that yourself. I’ve got nothing of yours, sir… . I look after my master’s belongings, sir. I am like that, sir … we all know … and I’ve … never been guilty of anything of the sort, sir, you know yourself, sir …”

“I trust you, my lad, I trust you. I didn’t mean that, my friend, I didn’t mean that, you know, my lad; I tell you what … “

“To be sure, sir, we know that already. Why, when I used to be in the service at general Stolnyakov’s … I lost the lace through the family’s going away to Saratov … they’ve an estate there …”

“No; I didn’t mean that, my lad, I didn’t mean that; don’t think anything of the sort, my dear fellow …”

“To be sure. It’s easy, as you know yourself, sir, to take away the character of folks like us. And I’ve always given satisfaction - ministers, generals, senators, counts - I’ve served them all. I’ve been at Prince Svintchatkin’s, at Colonel Pereborkin’s, at General Nedobarov’s - they’ve gone away too, they’ve gone to their property. As we all know …”

“Yes, my lad, very good, my lad, very good. And now I’m going away, my friend … A different path lies before each man, no one can tell what road he may have to take. Come, my lad, put out my clothes now, lay out my uniform too … and my other trousers, my sheets, quilts and pillows …”

“Am I to pack them all in the bag?”

“Yes, my lad, yes; the bag, please. Who knows what may happen to us. Come, my dear boy, you can go and find a carriage …”

“A carriage?… “

“Yes, my lad, a carriage; a roomy one, and take it by the hour. And don’t imagine anything …”

“Are you planning to go far away, sir?”

“I don’t know my lad, I don’t know that either. I think you had better pack my feather bed too. What do you think, my lad? I am relying on you, my dear fellow …”

“Is your honour setting off at once?”

“Yes, my friend, yes! Circumstances have turned out so … so it is, my dear fellow, so it is …”

“To be sure, sir; when we were in the regiment the same thing happened to the lieutenant; they eloped from a country gentleman’s …”

“Eloped? … How! My dear fellow!”

“Yes, sir, eloped, and they were married in another house. Everything was got ready beforehand. There was a hue and cry after them; the late prince took their part, and so it was all settled …”

“They were married, but … how is it, my dear fellow … How did you come to know, my boy?”

“Why, to be sure! The earth is full of rumours, sir. We know, sir, we’ve all … to be sure, there’s no one without sin. Only I’ll tell you now, sir, let me speak plainly and vulgarly, sir; since it has come to this, I must tell you, sir; you have an enemy - you’ve a rival, sir, a powerful rival, so there …”

“I know, my dear fellow, I know; you know yourself, my dear fellow… . So, you see, I’m relying upon you. What are we to do now, my friend! How do you advise me?”

“Well, sir, if you are in that way now, if you’ve come, so to say, to such a pass, sir, you’ll have to make some purchases, sir - say some sheets, pillows, another feather bed, a double one, a good quilt - here at the neighbours downstairs - she’s a shopkeeper, sir - she has a good fox-fur cloak, so you might look at it and buy it, you might have a look at it at once. You’ll need it now, sir; it’s a good cloak, sir, satin-lined with fox …”

“Very good, my lad, very good, I agree; I rely upon you, I rely upon you entirely; a cloak by all means, if necessary … Only make haste, make haste! For God’s sake make haste! I’ll buy the cloak - only please make haste! It will soon be eight o’clock. Make haste for God’s sake, my dear lad! Hurry up, my lad …”

Petrushka ran up to gather together a bundle of linen, pillows, quilt, sheets, and all sorts of odds and ends, tied them up and rushed headlong out of the room. Meanwhile, Mr. Golyadkin seized the letter once more, but he could not read it. Clutching his devoted head, he leaned against the wall in a state of stupefaction. He could not think of anything, he could do nothing either, and could not even tell what was happening to him. At last, seeing that time was passing and neither Petrushka nor the fur cloak had made their appearance, Mr. Golyadkin made up his mind to go himself. Opening the door into the entry, he heard below noise, talk, disputing and scuffling … Several of the women of the neighbouring flats were shouting, talking and protesting about something - Mr. Golyadkin knew what. Petrushka’s voice was heard: then there was a sound of footsteps.

“My goodness! They’ll bring all the world in here,” moaned Mr. Golyadkin, wringing his hands in despair and rushing back into his room. Running back into his room, he fell almost senseless on the sofa with his face in the pillow. After lying a minute in this way, he jumped up and, without waiting for Petrushka, he put on his goloshes, his hat and his greatcoat, snatched up his papers and ran headlong downstairs.

“Nothing is wanted, nothing, my dear fellow! I will manage myself - everything myself. I don’t need you for the time, and meantime, things may take a better turn, perhaps,” Mr. Golyadkin muttered to Petrushka, meeting him on the stair; then he ran out into the yard, away from the house. There was a faintness at his heart, he had not yet made up his mind what was his position, what he was to do, how he was to act in the present critical position.

“Yes, how am I to act? Lord, have mercy on me! And that all this should happen!” he cried out at last in despair, tottering along the street at random; “that all this must needs happen! Why, but for this, but for just this, everything would have been put right; at one stroke, at one skilful, vigorous, firm stroke it would have been set right. I would have my finger cut off to have set right! And I know, indeed, how it would have been settled. This is how it would have been managed: I’d have gone on the spot … said how it was … ‘with your permission, sir, I’m neither here nor there in it … things aren’t done like that,’ I would say, ‘my dear sir, things aren’t done like that, there’s no accepting an imposter in our office; an imposter … my dear sir, is a man … who is worthless and of no service to his country. Do you understand that? Do you understand that, my dear sir,’ I should say! That’s how it would be … But no … after all, things are not like that … not a bit like that … I am talking nonsense, like a fool! A suicidal fool! It’s not like that at all, you suicidal fool … This is how things are done, though, you profligate man! … Well, what am I to do with myself now? Well, what am I going to do with myself now. What am I fit for now? Come, what are you fit for now, for instance, you, Golyadkin, you, you worthless fellow! Well, what now? I must get a carriage; ‘hire a carriage and bring it here,’ says she, ‘we shall get our feet wet without a carriage,’ says she … And who could ever have thought it! Fie, fie, my young lady! Fie, fie, a young lady of virtuous behaviour! Well, well, the girl we all thought so much of! You’ve distinguished yourself, madam, there’s no doubt of that! you’ve distinguished yourself! … And it all comes from immoral education. And now that I’ve looked into it and seen through it all I see that it is due to nothing else but immorality. Instead of looking after her as a child … and the rod at times … they stuff her with sweets and dainties, and the old man is always doting over her: saying ‘my dear, my love, my beauty,’ saying, ‘we’ll marry you to a count!’ … And now she has come forward herself and shown her cards, as though to say that’s her little game! Instead of keeping her at home as a child, they sent her to a boarding school, to a French madame, and emigre, a Madame Falbalas or something, and she learned all sorts of things at that Madame Falbalas’, and this is how it always turns out. ‘Come,’ says she, ‘and be happy! Be in a carriage,’ she says, ‘at such a time, under the windows, and sing a sentimental serenade in the Spanish style; I await you and I know you love me, and we will fly together and live in a hut.’ But the fact is it’s impossible; since it has come to that, madam, it’s impossible, it is against the law to abduct an innocent, respectable girl from her parents’ roof without their sanction! And, if you come to that, why, what for and what need is there to do it? Come, she should marry a suitable person, the man marked out by destiny, and that would be the end of it. But I’m in the government service, I might lose my berth through it: I might be arrested for it, madam! I tell you that! If you did not know it. It’s that German woman’s doing. She’s a the bottom of it all, the witch; she cooked the whole kettle of fish. For they’ve slandered a man, for they’ve invented a bit of womanish gossip about him, a regular performance by the advice of Andrey Filippovitch, that’s what it came from. Otherwise how could Petrushka be mixed up in it? What has he to do with it? What need for the rogue to be in it? No, I cannot, madam, I cannot possibly, not on any account … No, madam, this time you must really excuse me. It’s all your doing, madam, it’s not all the German’s doing, it’s not the witch’s doing at all, but simply yours. For the witch is a good woman, for the witch is not to blame in any way; it’s your fault, madam; it’s you who are to blame, let me tell you! I shall not be charged with a crime through you, madam… . A man might be ruined … a man might lose sight of himself, and not be able to restrain himself - a wedding, indeed! And how is it all going to end? And how will it all be arranged? I would give a great deal to know all that! …”

So our hero reflected in his despair. Coming to himself suddenly, he observed that he was standing somewhere in Liteyny Street. The weather was awful: it was a thaw; snow and rain were falling - just as at that memorable time when at the dread hour of midnight all Mr. Golyadkin’s troubles had begun. “This is a nice night for a journey!” thought Mr. Golyadkin, looking at the weather; “it’s death all round… . Good Lord! Where am I to find a carriage, for instance? I believe there’s something black there at the corner. We’ll see, we’ll investigate … Lord, have mercy on us!” our hero went on, bending his weak and tottering steps in the direction in which he saw something that looked like a cab.

“No, I know what I’ll do; I’ll go straight and fall on my knees, if I can, and humbly beg, saying ‘I put my fate in your hands, in the hands of my superiors’; saying, ‘Your Excellency, be a protector and a benefactor’; and then I’ll say this and that, and explain how it is and that it is an unlawful act; ‘Do not destroy me, I look upon you as my father, do not abandon me … save my dignity, my honour, my name, my reputation … and save me from a miscreant, a vicious man… . He’s another person, your Excellency, and I’m another person too; he’s apart and I am myself by myself too; I am really myself by myself, your Excellency; really myself by myself,’ that’s what I shall say. ‘I cannot be like him. Change him, dismiss him, give orders for him to be changed and a godless, licentious impersonation to be suppressed … that it may not be an example to others, your Excellency. I look upon you as a father’; those in authority over us, our benefactors and protectors, are bound, of course, to encourage such impulses… . There’s something chivalrous about it: I shall say, ‘I look upon you, my benefactor and superior, as a father, and trust my fate to you, and I will not say anything against it; I put myself in your hands, and retire from the affair myself’ … that’s what I would say.”

“Well, my man, are you a cabman?”

“Yes …”

“I want a cab for the evening …”

“And does your honour want to go far?”

“For the evening, for the evening; wherever I have to go, my man, wherever I have to go.”

“Does your honour want to drive out of town?”

“Yes, my friend, out of town, perhaps. I don’t quite know myself yet, I can’t tell you for certain, my man. Maybe you see it will all be settled for the best. We all know, my friend …”

“Yes, sir, of course we all know. Please God it may.”

“Yes, my friend, yes; thank you, my dear fellow; come, what’s your fare, my good man? …”

“Do you want to set off at once?”

“Yes, at once, that is, no, you must wait at a certain place… . A little while, not long, you’ll have to wait… .”

“Well, if you hire me for the whole time, I couldn’t ask less than six roubles for weather like this …”

“Oh, very well, my friend; and I thank you, my dear fellow. So, come, you can take me now, my good man.”

“Get in; allow me, I’ll put it straight a bit - now will your honour get in. Where shall I drive?”

“To the Ismailovsky Bridge, my friend.”

The driver plumped down on the box, with difficulty roused his pair of lean nags from the trough of hay, and was setting off for Ismailovsky Bridge. But suddenly Mr. Golyadkin pulled the cord, stopped the cab, and besought him in an imploring voice not to drive to Ismailovsky Bridge, but to turn back to another street. The driver turned into another street, and then minutes later Mr. Golyadkin’s newly hired equipage was standing before the house in which his Excellency had a flat. Mr. Golyadkin got out of the carriage, begged the driver to be sure to wait and with a sinking heart ran upstairs to the third storey and pulled the bell; the door was opened and our hero found himself in the entry of his Excellency’s flat.

“Is his Excellency graciously pleased to be at home?” said Mr. Golyadkin, addressing the man who opened the door.

“What do you want?” asked the servant, scrutinizing Mr. Golyadkin from head to foot.

“I, my friend … I am Golyadkin, the titular councillor, Golyadkin … To say … something or other … to explain …”

“You must wait; you cannot …”

“My friend, I cannot wait; my business is important, it’s business that admits of no delay …”

“But from whom have you come? Have you brought papers?… “

“No, my friend, I am on my own account. Announce me, my friend, say something or other, explain. I’ll reward you, my good man …”

“I cannot. His Excellency is not at home, he has visitors. Come at ten o’clock in the morning …”

“Take in my name, my good man, I can’t wait - it is impossible… . You’ll have to answer for it, my good man.”

“Why, go and announce him! What’s the matter with you; want to save your shoe leather?” said another lackey who was lolling on the bench and had not uttered a word till then.

“Shoe leather! I was told not to show any one up, you know; their time is the morning.”

“Announce him, have you lost your tongue?”

“I’ll announce him all right - I’ve not lost my tongue. It’s not my orders; I’ve told you, it’s not my orders. Walk inside.”

Mr. Golyadkin went into the outermost room; there was a clock on the table. He glanced at it: it was half-past eight. His heart ached within him. Already he wanted to turn back, but at that very moment the footman standing at the door of the next room had already boomed out Mr. Golyadkin’s name.

“Oh, what lungs,” thought our hero in indescribable misery. “Why, you ought to have said: ‘he has come most humbly and meekly to make an explanation … something … be graciously pleased to see him’ … Now the whole business is ruined; all my hopes are scattered to the winds. But … however … never mind …”

There was no time to think, moreover. The lackey, returning, said, “Please walk in,” and led Mr. Golyadkin into the study.

When our hero went in, he felt as though he were blinded, for he could see nothing at all … But three or four figures seemed flitting before his eyes: “Oh, yes, they are the visitors,” flashed through Mr. Golyadkin’s mind. At last our hero could distinguish clearly the star on the black coat of his Excellency, then by degrees advanced to seeing the black coat and at last gained the power of complete vision… .

“What is it?” said a familiar voice above Mr. Golyadkin.

“The titular councillor, Golyadkin, your Excellency.”


“I have come to make an explanation …”

“How? … What?”

“Why, yes. This is how it is. I’ve come for an explanation, your Excellency …”

“But you … but who are you? …”

“M-m-m-mist-er Golyadkin, your Excellency, a titular councillor.”

“Well, what is it you want?”

“Why, this is how it is, I look upon you as a father; I retire … defend me from my enemy! …”

“What’s this? …”

“We all know …”

“What do we all know?”

Mr. Golyadkin was silent: his chin began twitching a little.


“I thought it was chivalrous, your Excellency … ‘There’s something chivalrous in it,’ I said, ‘and I look upon my superior as a father’ … this is what I thought; ‘protect me, I tear … earfully … b … eg and that such imp … impulses ought … to … be encouraged …”

His excellency turned away, our hero for some minutes could distinguish nothing. There was a weight on his chest. His breathing was laboured; he did not know where he was standing … He felt ashamed and sad. God knows what followed… Recovering himself, our hero noticed that his Excellency was talking with his guests, and seemed to be briskly and emphatically discussing something with them. One of the visitors Mr. Golyadkin recognized at once. This was Andrey Filippovitch; he knew no one else; yet there was another person that seemed familiar - a tall, thick-set figure, middle-aged, possessed of very thick eyebrows and whiskers and a significant sharp expression. On his chest was an order and in his mouth a cigar. This gentleman was smoking and nodding significantly without taking the cigar out of his mouth, glancing from time to time at Mr. Golyadkin. Mr. Golyadkin felt awkward; he turned away his eyes and immediately saw another very strange visitor. Through a door which our hero had taken for a looking-glass, just as he had done once before - he made his appearance - we know who: a very intimate friend and acquaintance of Mr. Golyadkin’s. Mr. Golyadkin junior had actually been till then in a little room close by, hurriedly writing something; now, apparently, he was needed - and he came in with papers under his arm, went up to his Excellency, and while waiting for exclusive attention to be paid him succeeded very adroitly in putting his spoke into the talk and consultation, taking his place a little behind Andrey Filippovitch’s back and partly screening him from the gentleman smoking the cigar. Apparently Mr. Golyadkin junior took an intense interest in the conversation, to which he was listening now in a gentlemanly way, nodding his head, fidgeting with his feet, smiling, continually looking at his Excellency - as it were beseeching him with his eyes to let him put his word in.

“The scoundrel,” thought Mr. Golyadkin, and involuntarily he took a step forward. At this moment his Excellency turned round and came rather hesitatingly towards Mr. Golyadkin.

“Well, that’s all right, that’s all right; well, run along, now. I’ll look into your case, and give orders for you to be taken …”

At this point his Excellency glanced at the gentleman with the thick whiskers. The latter nodded in assent.

Mr. Golyadkin felt and distinctly understood that they were taking him for something different and not looking at him in the proper light at all.

“In one way or another I must explain myself,” he thought; “I must say, ‘This is how it is, your Excellency.’”

At this point in his perplexity he dropped his eyes to the floor and to his great astonishment he saw a good-sized patch of something white on his Excellency’s boots.

“Can there be a hole in them?” thought Mr. Golyadkin. Mr. Golyadkin was, however, soon convinced that his Excellency’s boots were not split, but were only shining brilliantly - a phenomenon fully explained by the fact that they were patent leather and highly polished.

“It is what they call blick,” thought our hero; “the term is used particularly in artists studios; in other places such a reflected light is called a rib of light.”

At this point Mr. Golyadkin raised his eyes and saw that the time had come to speak, for things might easily end badly …

Our hero took a step forward.

“I say this is how it is, your Excellency,” he said, “and there’s no accepting imposters nowadays.”

His Excellency made no answer, but rang the bell violently. Our hero took another step forward.

“He is a vile, vicious man, your Excellency,” said our hero, beside himself and faint with terror, though he still pointed boldly and resolutely at his unworthy twin, who was fidgeting about near his Excellency. “I say this is how it is, and I am alluding to a well-known person.”

There was a general sensation at Mr. Golyadkin’s words. Andrey Filippovitch and the gentleman with the cigar nodded their heads; his Excellency impatiently tugged at the bell to summon the servants. At this point Mr. Golyadkin junior came forward in his turn.

“Your Excellency,” he said, “I humbly beg permission to speak.” There was something very resolute in Mr. Golyadkin junior’s voice; everything showed that he felt himself completely in the right.

“Allow me to ask you,” he began again, anticipating his Excellency’s reply in his eagerness, and this time addressing Mr. Golyadkin; “allow me to ask you, in whose presence you are making this explanation? Before whom are you standing, in whose room are you? …”

Mr. Golyadkin junior was in a state of extraordinary excitement, flushed and glowing with wrath and indignation; there were positively tears in his eyes.

A lackey, appearing in the doorway, roared at the top of his voice the name of some new arrivals, the Bassavryukovs.

“A good aristocratic name, hailing from Little Russia,” thought Mr. Golyadkin, and at that moment he felt some one lay a very friendly hand on his back, then a second hand was laid on his back. Mr. Golyadkin’s infamous twin was tripping about in front leading the way; and our hero saw clearly that he was being led to the big doors of the room.

“Just as it was at Olsufy Ivanovitch’s,” he thought, and he found himself in the hall. Looking round, he saw beside him two of the Excellency’s lackeys and his twin.

“The greatcoat, the greatcoat, the greatcoat, the greatcoat, my friend! The greatcoat of my best friend!” whispered the depraved man, snatching the coat from one of the servants, and by way of a nasty and ungentlemanly joke flinging it straight at Mr. Golyadkin’s head. Extricating himself from under his coat, Mr. Golyadkin distinctly heard the two lackeys snigger. But without listening to anything, or paying attention to it, he went out of the hall and found himself on the lighted stairs. Mr. Golyadkin junior following him.

“Goodbye, your Excellency!” he shouted after Mr. Golyadkin senior.

“Scoundrel!” our hero exclaimed, beside himself.

“Well, scoundrel, then …”

“Depraved man! …”

“Well, depraved man, then …” answered Mr. Golyadkin’s unworthy enemy, and with his characteristic baseness he looked down from the top of the stairs straight into Mr. Golyadkin’s face as though begging him to go on. Our hero spat with indignation and ran out of the front door; he was so shattered, so crushed, that he had no recollection of how he got into the cab or who helped him in. Coming to himself, he found that he was being driven to Fontanka. “To Ismailovsky Bridge, then,” thought Mr. Golyadkin. At this point Mr. Golyadkin tried to think of something else, but could not; there was something so terrible that he could not explain it … “Well, never mind,” our hero concluded, and he drove to Ismailovsky Bridge.

Chapter 13

… It seemed as though the weather meant to change for the better. The snow, which had till then been coming down in regular clouds, began growing visible and here and there tiny stars sparkled in it. It was only wet, muddy, damp and stifling, especially for Mr. Golyadkin, who could hardly breathe as it was. His greatcoat, soaked and heavy with wet, sent a sort of unpleasant warm dampness all through him and weighed down his exhausted legs. A feverish shiver sent sharp, shooting pains all over him; he was in a painful cold sweat of exhaustion, so much so that Mr. Golyadkin even forgot to repeat at every suitable occasion with his characteristic firmness and resolution his favourite phrase that “it all, maybe, most likely, indeed, might turn out for the best.” “But all this does not matter for the time,” our hero repeated, still staunch and not downhearted, wiping from his face the cold drops that streamed in all directions from the brim of his round hat, which was so soaked that it could hold no more water. Adding that all this was nothing so far, our hero tried to sit on a rather thick clump of wood, which was lying near a heap of logs in Olsufy Ivanovitch’s yard. Of course, it was no good thinking of Spanish serenades or silken ladders, but it was quite necessary to think of a modest corner, snug and private, if not altogether warm. He felt greatly tempted, we may mention in passing, by that corner in the back entry of Olsufy Ivanovitch’s flat in which he had once, almost at the beginning of this true story, stood for two hours between a cupboard and an old screen among all sorts of domestic odds and ends and useless litter. The fact is that Mr. Golyadkin had been standing waiting for two whole hours on this occasion in Olsufy Ivanovitch’s yard. But in regard to that modest and snug little corner there were certain drawbacks which had not existed before. The first drawback was the fact that it was probably now a marked place and that certain precautionary measures had been taken in regard to it since the scandal at Olsufy Ivanovitch’s last ball. Secondly, he had to wait for a signal from Klara Olsufyevna, for there was bound to be some such signal, it was always a feature in such cases and, “it didn’t begin with us and it won’t end with us.”

At this point Mr. Golyadkin very appropriately remembered a novel he had read long ago in which the heroine, in precisely similar circumstances, signalled to Alfred by tying a pink ribbon to her window. But now, at night, in the climate of Petersburg, famous for its dampness and unreliability, a pink ribbon was hardly appropriate and, in fact, was utterly out of the question.

“No, it’s not a matter of silk ladders,” thought our hero, “and I had better stay here quietly and comfortably … I had better stand here.”

And he selected a place in the yard exactly opposite the window, near a stack of firewood. Of course, many persons, grooms and coachmen, were continually crossing the yard, and there was, besides, the rumbling of wheels and the snorting of horses and so on; yet it was a convenient place, whether he was observed or not; but now, anyway, there was the advantage of being to some extent in the shadow, and no one could see Mr. Golyadkin while he himself could see everything.

The windows were brightly lit up, there was some sort of ceremonious party at Olsufy Ivanovitch’s. But he could hear no music as yet.

“So it’s not a ball, but a party of some other sort,” thought our hero, somewhat aghast. “Is it today?” floated the doubt through him. “Have I made a mistake in the date? Perhaps; anything is possible… . Yes, to be sure, anything is possible … Perhaps she wrote a letter to me yesterday, and it didn’t reach me, and perhaps it did not reach me because Petrushka put his spoke in, the rascal! Or it was tomorrow, that is - wait with a carriage… .”

At this point our hero turned cold all over and felt in his pocket for the letter, to make sure. But to his surprise the letter was not in his pocket.

“How’s this?” muttered Mr. Golyadkin, more dead than alive. “Where did I leave it? Then I must have lost it. That is the last straw!” he moaned at last. “Oh, if it falls into evil hands! Perhaps in has already. Good Lord! What may it not lead to! It may lead to something such that … Ach, my miserable fate!” At this point Mr. Golyadkin began trembling like a leaf at the thought that perhaps his vicious twin had thrown the greatcoat at him with the object of stealing the letter of which he had somehow got an inkling from Mr. Golyadkin’s enemies.

“What’s more, he’s stealing it,” thought our hero, “as evidence … but why evidence! …”

After the first shock of horror, the blood rushed to Mr. Golyadkin’s head. Moaning and gnashing his teeth, he clutched his burning head, sank back on his block of wood and relapsed into brooding… . But he could form no coherent thought. Figures kept flitting through his brain, incidents came back to his memory, now vaguely, now very distinctly, the tunes of some foolish songs kept ringing in his ears… . He was in great distress, unnatural distress!

“My God, my God!” our hero thought, recovering himself a little, and suppressing a muffled sob, “give me fortitude in the immensity of my afflictions! That I am done for, utterly destroyed - of that there can be no doubt, and that’s all in the natural order of things, since it cannot be otherwise. To begin with, I’ve lost my berth, I’ve certainly lost it, I must have lost it … Well, supposing things are set right somehow. Supposing I have money enough to begin with: I must have another lodging, furniture of some sort… . In the first place, I shan’t have Petrushka. I can get on without the rascal … somehow, with help from the people of the house; well, that will be all right! I can go in and out when I like, and Petrushka won’t grumble at my coming in late - yes, that is so; that’s why it’s a good thing to have the people in the house… . Well, supposing that’s all right; but all that’s nothing to do with it.”

At this point the thought of the real position again dawned upon Mr. Golyadkin’s memory. He looked round.

“Oh, Lord, have mercy on me, have mercy on me! What am I talking about?” he thought, growing utterly desperate and clutching his burning head in his hands… .

“Won’t you soon be going, sir?” a voice pronounced above Mr. Golyadkin. Our hero started; before him stood his cabman, who was also drenched through and shivering; growing impatient, and having nothing to do, he had thought fit to take a look at Mr. Golyadkin behind the woodstack.

“I am all right, my friend … I am coming soon, soon, very soon; you wait …”

The cabman walked away, grumbling to himself. “What is he grumbling about?” Mr. Golyadkin wondered through his tears. “Why, I have hired him for the evening, why, I’m … within my rights now … that’s so! I’ve hired him for the evening and that’s the end of it. If one stands still, it’s just the same. That’s for me to decide. I am free to drive on or not to drive on. And my staying here by the woodstack has nothing to do with the case… and don’t dare to say anything; think, the gentleman wants to stand behind the woodstack, and so he’s standing behind it … and he is not disgracing any one’s honour! That’s the fact of the matter.

“I tell you what is it is, madam, if you care to know. Nowadays, madam, nobody lives in a hut, or anything of that sort. No, indeed. And in our industrial age there’s no getting on without morality, a fact of which you are a fatal example, madam … You say we must get a job as a register clerk and live in a hut on the sea-shore. In the first place, madam, there are no register clerks on the sea-shore, and in the second place we can’t get a job as a register clerk. For supposing, for example, I send in a petition, present myself - saying a register clerk’s place or something of the sort … and defend me from my enemy … they’ll tell you, madam, they’ll say, to be sure … we’ve lots of register clerks, and here you are not at Madame Falbalas’, where you learnt the rules of good behaviour of which you are a fatal example. Good behaviour, madam, means staying at home, honouring your father and not thinking about suitors prematurely. Suitors will come in good time, madam, that’s so! Of course, you are bound to have some accomplishments, such as playing the piano sometimes, speaking French, history, geography, scripture and arithmetic, that’s the truth of it! And that’s all you need. Cooking, too, cooking certainly forms part of the education of a well-behaved girl! But as it is, in the first place, my fine lady, they won’t let you go, they’ll raise a hue and cry after you, and then they’ll lock you up in a nunnery. How will it be then, madam? What will you have me do then? Would you have me, madam, follow the example of some stupid novels, and melt into tears on a neighbouring hillock, gazing at the cold walls of your prison house, and finally die, following the example of some wretched German poets and novelists. Is that it, madam? But, to begin with, allow me to tell you, as a friend, that things are not done like that, and in the second place I would have given you and your parents, too, a good thrashing for letting you read French books; for French books teach you no good. There’s a poison in them … a pernicious poison, madam! Or do you imagine, allow me to ask you, or do you imagine that we shall elope with impunity, or something of that sort … that was shall have a hut on the shore of the sea and so on; and that we shall begin billing and cooing and talking about our feelings, and that so we shall spend our lives in happiness and content; and then there would be little ones - so then we shall … shall go to our father, the civil councillor, Olsufy Ivanovitch, and say, ‘we’ve got a little one, and so, on this propitious occasion remove your curse, and bless the couple.’ No, madam, I tell you again, that’s not the way to do things, and for the first thing there’ll be no billing and cooing and please don’t reckon on it. Nowadays, madam, the husband is the master and a good, well-brought-up wife should try and please him in every way. And endearments, madam, are not in favour, nowadays, in our industrial age; the day of Jean Jacques Rousseau is over. The husband comes home, for instance, hungry from the office, and asks, ‘Isn’t there something to eat, my love, a drop of vodka to drink, a bit of salt fish to eat?’ So then, madam, you must have the vodka and the herring ready. Your husband will eat it with relish, and he won’t so much as look at you, he’ll only say ‘Run into the kitchen, kitten,’ he’ll say, ‘and look after the dinner, and at most, once a week, he’ll kiss you, even then rather indifferently … That’s how it will be with us, my young lady! Yes, even then indifferently… . That’s how it will be, if one considers it, if it has come to one’s looking at the thing in that way… . And how do I come in? Why have you mixed me up in your caprices? ‘The noble man who is suffering for your sake and will be dear to your heart for ever,’ and so on. but in the first place, madam, I am not suited to you, you know yourself, I’m not a great hand at compliments, I’m not fond of uttering perfumed trifles for the ladies. I’m not fond of lady-killers, and I must own I’ve never been a beauty to look at. You won’t find any swagger or false shame in me, and I tell you so now in all sincerity. This is the fact of the matter: we can boast of nothing but a straightforward, open character and common sense; we have nothing to do with intrigues. I am not one to intrigue, I say so and I’m proud of it - that’s the fact of the matter! … I wear no mask among straightforward people, and to tell you the whole truth… .”

Suddenly Mr. Golyadkin started. The red and perfectly sopping beard of the cabman appeared round the woodstack again… .

“I am coming directly, my friend. I’m coming at once, you know,” Mr. Golyadkin responded in a trembling and failing voice.

The cabman scratched his head, then stroked his beard, and moved a step forward… stood still and looked suspiciously at Mr. Golyadkin.

“I am coming directly, my friend; you see, my friend … I … just a little, you see, only a second! … more … here, you see, my friend… .”

“Aren’t you coming at all?” the cabman asked at last, definitely coming up to Mr. Golyadkin.

“No, my friend, I’m coming directly. I am waiting, you see, my friend… .”

“So I see …”

“You see, my friend, I … What part of the country do you come from, my friend?”

“We are under a master …”

“And have you a good master? …”

“All right …”

“Yes, my friend; you stay here, my friend, you see … Have you been in Petersburg long, my friend?”

“It’s a year since I came …”

“And are you getting on all right, my friend?”


“To be sure, my friend, to be sure. You must thank Providence, my friend. You must look out for straightforward people. Straightforward people are non too common nowadays, my friend; he would give you washing, food, and drink, my good fellow, a good man would. But sometimes you see tears shed for the sake of gold, my friend … you see a lamentable example; that’s the fact of the matter, my friend… .”

The cabman seemed to feel sorry for Mr. Golyadkin. “Well, your honour, I’ll wait. Will your honour be waiting long?”

“No, my friend, no; I … you know … I won’t wait any longer, my good man … What do you think, my friend? I rely upon you. I won’t stay any longer.”

“Aren’t you going at all?”

“No, my friend, no; I’ll reward you, my friend … that’s the fact of the matter. How much ought I to give you, my dear fellow?”

“What you hired me for, please, sir. I’ve been waiting here a long time; don’t be hard on a man, sir.”

“Well, here, my good man, here.”

At this point Mr. Golyadkin gave six roubles to the cabman, and made up his mind in earnest to waste no more time, that is, to clear off straight away, especially as the cabman was dismissed and everything was over, and so it was useless to wait longer. He rushed out of the yard, went out of the gate, turned to the left and without looking round took to his heels, breathless and rejoicing. “Perhaps it will all be for the best,” he thought, “and perhaps in this way I’ve run away from trouble.” Mr. Golyadkin suddenly became all at once light-hearted. “Oh, if only it could turn out for the best!” thought our hero, though he put little faith in his own words. “I know what I’ll do …” he thought. “No, I know, I’d better try the other tack … Or wouldn’t it be better to do this? …” In this way, hesitating and seeking for the solution of his doubts, our hero ran to Semyonovsky Bridge; but while running to Semyonovsky Bridge he very rationally and conclusively decided to return.

“It will be better so,” he thought. “I had better try the other tack, that is … I will just go - I’ll look on simply as an outsider, an outsider - and nothing more, whatever happens - it’s not my fault, that’s the fact of the matter! That’s how it shall be now.”

Deciding to return, our hero actually did return, the more readily because with this happy thought he conceived of himself now as quite an outsider.

“It’s the best thing; one’s not responsible for anything, and one will see all that’s necessary … that’s the fact of the matter!”

It was a safe plan and that settled it. Reassured, he crept back under the peaceful shelter of his soothing and protecting woodstack, and began gazing intently at the window. This time he was not destined to gaze and wait long. Suddenly a strange commotion became apparent at all the windows. Figures appeared, curtains were drawn back, whole groups of people were crowding to the windows at Olsufy Ivanovitch’s flat. All were peeping out looking for something in the yard. From the security of his woodstack, our hero, too, began with curiosity watching the general commotion, and with interest craned forward to right and to left so far as he could within the shadow of the woodstack. Suddenly he started, held his breath and almost sat down with horror. It seemed to him - in short, he realized, that they were looking for nothing and for nobody but him, Mr. Golyadkin! Every one was looking in his direction. It was impossible to escape; they saw him … In a flutter, Mr. Golyadkin huddled as closely as he could to the woodstack, and only then noticed that the treacherous shadow had betrayed him, that it did not cover him completely. Our hero would have been delighted at that moment to creep into a mouse-hole in the woodstack, and there meekly to remain, if only it had been possible. But it was absolutely impossible. In his agony he began at last staring openly and boldly at the windows, it was the best thing to do… . And suddenly he glowed with shame. He had been fully discovered, every one was staring at him at once, they were all waving their hands, all were nodding their heads at him, all were calling to him; then several windows creaked as they opened, several voices shouted something to him at once… .

“I wonder why they don’t whip these naughty girls as children,” our hero muttered to himself, losing his head completely. Suddenly there an down the steps he (we know who), without his hat or greatcoat, breathless, rubbing his hands, wriggling, capering, perfidiously displaying intense joy at seeing Mr. Golyadkin.

“Yakov Petrovitch,” whispered this individual, so notorious for his worthlessness, “Yakov Petrovitch, are you here? You’ll catch cold. It’s chilly here, Yakov Petrovitch. Come indoors.”

“Yakov Petrovitch! No, I’m all right, Yakov Petrovitch,” our hero muttered in a submissive voice.

“No, this won’t do, Yakov Petrovitch, I beg you, I humbly beg you to wait with us. ‘Make him welcome and bring him in,’ they say, ‘Yakov Petrovitch.’”

“No, Yakov Petrovitch, you see, I’d better … I had better go home, Yakov Petrovitch …” said our hero, burning at a slow fire and freezing at the same time with shame and terror.

“No - no - no - no!” whispered the loathsome person. “No - no - no, on no account! Come along,” he said resolutely, and he dragged Mr. Golyadkin senior to the steps. Mr. Golyadkin senior did not at all want to go, but as every one was looking at them, it would have been stupid to struggle and resist; so our hero went - though, indeed, one cannot say that he went, because he did not know in the least what was being done with him. Though, after all, it made no difference!

Before our hero had time to recover himself and come to his senses, he found himself in the drawing-room. He was pale, dishevelled, harassed; with lustreless eyes he scanned the crowd - horror! The drawing-room, all the rooms - were full to overflowing. There were masses of people, a whole galaxy of ladies; and all were crowding round Mr. Golyadkin and he perceived clearly that they were all forcing him in one direction.

“Not towards the door,” was the thought that floated through Mr. Golyadkin’s mind.

They were, in fact, forcing him not towards the door but Olsufy Ivanovitch’s easy chair. On one side of the armchair stood Klara Olsufyevna, pale, languid, melancholy, but gorgeously dressed. Mr. Golyadkin was particularly struck by a little white flower which rested on her superb hair. On the other side of the armchair stood Vladimir Semyonovitch, clad in black, with his new order in his buttonhole. Mr. Golyadkin was led in, as we have described above, straight up to Olsufy Ivanovitch - on one side of him Mr. Golyadkin junior, who had assumed an air of great decorum and propriety, to the immense relief of our hero, while on the other side was Andrey Filippovitch, with a very solemn expression on his face.

“What can it mean?” Mr. Golyadkin wondered.

When he saw that he was being led to Olsufy Ivanovitch, an idea struck him like a flash of lightning. The thought of the intercepted letter darted through his brain. In great agony our hero stood before Olsufy Ivanovitch’s chair.

“What will he say now?” he wondered to himself. “Of course, it will be all aboveboard now, that is, straightforward and, one may say, honourable; I shall say this is how it is, and so on.”

But what our hero apparently feared did not happen. Olsufy Ivanovitch received Mr. Golyadkin very warmly, and though he did not hold out his hand to him, yet as he gazed at out hero, he shook his grey and venerable head - shook it with an air of solemn melancholy and yet of goodwill. So, at least, it seemed to Mr. Golyadkin. He even fancied that a tear glittered in Olsufy Ivanovitch’s lustreless eyes; he raised his eyes and saw that there seemed to be tears, too, on the eyelashes of Klara Olsufyevna, who was standing by - that there seemed to be something of the same sort even in the eyes of Vladimir Semyonovitch - that the unruffled and composed dignity of Andrey Filippovitch has the same significance as the general tearful sympathy - that even the young man who was so much like a civil councillor, seizing the opportunity, was sobbing bitterly… . Though perhaps this was only all Mr. Golyadkin’s fancy, because he was so much moved himself, and distinctly felt the hot tears running down his cheeks… .

Feeling reconciled with mankind and his destiny, and filled with love at the moment, not only for Olsufy Ivanovitch, not only for the whole part collected there, but even for his noxious twin (who seemed now to be by no means noxious, and not even to be his twin at all, but a person very agreeable in himself and in no way connected with him), our hero, in a voice broken with sobs, tried to express his feelings to Olsufy Ivanovitch, but was too much overcome by all that he had gone through, and could not utter a word; he could only, with an expressive gesture, point meekly to his heart…

At last, probably to spare the feelings of the old man, Andrey Filippovitch led Mr. Golyadkin a little away, though he seemed to leave him free to do as he liked. Smiling, muttering something to himself, somewhat bewildered, yet almost completely reconciled with fate and his fellow creatures, our hero began to make his way through the crowd of guests. Every one made way for him, every one looked at him with strange curiosity and with mysterious, unaccountable sympathy. Our hero went into another room; he met with the same attention everywhere; he was vaguely conscious of the whole crowd closely following him, noting every step he took, talking in undertones among themselves of something very interesting, shaking their heads, arguing and discussing in whispers. Mr. Golyadkin wanted very much to know what they were discussing in whispers. Looking round, he saw near him Mr. Golyadkin junior. Feeling an overwhelming impulse to seize his hand and draw him aside, Mr. Golyadkin begged the other Yakov Petrovitch most particularly to co-operate with him in all his future undertakings, and not to abandon him at a critical moment. Mr. Golyadkin junior nodded his head gravely and warmly pressed the hand of Mr. Golyadkin senior. Our hero’s heart was quivering with hte intensity of his emotion. He was gasping for breath, however; he felt so oppressed - so oppressed; he felt that all those eyes fastened upon him were oppressing and dominating him … . Mr. Golyadkin caught a glimpse of the councillor who wore a wig. The latter was looking at him with a stern, searching eye, not in the least softened by the general sympathy… .

Our hero made up his mind to go straight up to him in order to smile at him and have an immediate explanation, but this somehow did not come off. For one instant Mr. Golyadkin became almost unconscious, almost lost all memory, all feeling.

When he came to himself again he noticed that he was the centre of a large ring formed by the rest of the party round him. Suddenly Mr. Golyadkin’s name was called from the other room; noise and excitement, all rushed to the door of the first room, almost carrying our hero along with them. In the crush the hard-hearted councillor in the wig was side by side with Mr. Golyadkin, and, taking our hero by the hand, he made him sit down opposite Olsufy Ivanovitch, at some distance from the latter, however. Every one in the room sat down; the guests were arranged in rows round Mr. Golyadkin and Olsufy Ivanovitch. Everything was hushed; every one preserved a solemn silence; every one was watching Olsufy Ivanovitch, evidently expecting something out of the ordinary. Mr. Golyadkin noticed that beside Olsufy Ivanovitch’s chair and directly facing the councillor sat Mr. Golyadkin junior, with Andrey Filippovitch. The silence was prolonged; they were evidently expecting something.

“Just as it is in a family when some one is setting off on a far journey. We’ve only to stand up and pray now,” thought our hero.

Suddenly there was a general stir which interrupted Mr. Golyadkin’s reflections. Something they had been waiting for happened.

“He is coming, he is coming!” passed from one to another in the crowd.

“Who is it that is coming?” floated through Mr. Golyadkin’s mind, and he shuddered at a strange sensation. “High time too!” said the councillor, looking intently at Andrey Ivanovitch. Andrey Filippovitch, for his part, glanced at Olsufy Ivanovitch. Olsufy Ivanovitch gravely and solemnly nodded his head.

“Let us stand up,” said the councillor, and he made Mr. Golyadkin get up. All rose to their feet. Then the councillor took Mr. Golyadkin senior by the hand, and Andrey Filippovitch took Mr. Golyadkin junior, and in this way these two precisely similar persons were conducted through the expectant crowd surrounding them. Our hero looked about him in perplexity; but he was at once checked and his attention was called to Mr. Golyadkin junior, who was holding out his hand to him.

“They want to reconcile us,” thought our hero, and with emotion he held out his hand to Mr. Golyadkin junior; and then - then bent his head forward towards him. The other Mr. Golyadkin did the same… .

At this point it seemed to Mr. Golyadkin senior that his perfidious friend was smiling, that he gave a sly, hurried wink to the crowd of onlookers, and that there was something sinister in the face of the worthless Mr. Golyadkin junior, that he even made a grimace at the moment of his Judas kiss… .

There was a ringing in Mr. Golyadkin’s ears, and a darkness before his eyes; it seemed to him that an infinite multitude, an unending series of precisely similar Golyadkins were noisily bursting in at every door of the room; but it was too late… . the resounding, treacherous kiss was over, and …

Then quite an unexpected event occurred… . The door opened noisily, and in the doorway stood a man, the very sight of whom sent a chill to Mr. Golyadkin’s heart. He stood rooted to the spot. A cry of horror died away in his choking throat. Yet Mr. Golyadkin knew it all beforehand, and had had a presentiment of something of the sort for a long time. The new arrival went up to Mr. Golyadkin gravely and solemnly. Mr. Golyadkin knew this personage very well. He had seen him before, had seen him very often, had seen him that day … This personage was a tall, thick-set man in a black dress-coat with a good-sized cross on his breast, and was possessed of thick, very black whiskers; nothing was lacking but the cigar in the mouth to complete the picture. Yet this person’s eyes, as we have mentioned already, sent a chill to the heart of Mr. Golyadkin. With a grave and solemn air this terrible man approached the pitiable hero of our story… . Our hero held out his hand to him; the stranger took his hand and drew him along with him … With a crushed and desperate air our hero looked about him.

“It’s … it’s Krestyan Ivanovitch Rutenspitz, doctor of medicine and surgery; your old acquaintance, Yakov Petrovitch!” a detestable voice whispered in Mr. Golyadkin’s ear. He looked around: it was Mr. Golyadkin’s twin, so revolting in the despicable meanness of his soul. A malicious, indecent joy shone in his countenance; he was rubbing his hands with rapture, he was turning his head from side to side in ecstasy, he was fawning round every one in delight and seemed ready to dance with glee. At last he pranced forward, took a candle from one of the servants and walked in front, showing the way to Mr. Golyadkin and Krestyan Ivanovitch. Mr. Golyadkin heard the whole party in the drawing-room rush after him, crowding and squeezing one another, and all beginning to repeat after Mr. Golyadkin himself, “It is all right, don’t be afraid, Yakov Petrovitch; this is you old friend and acquaintance, you know, Krestyan Ivanovitch Rutenspitz…”

At last they came out on the brightly lighted stairs; there was a crowd of people on the stairs too. The front door was thrown open noisily, and Mr. Golyadkin found himself on the steps, together with Krestyan Ivanovitch. At the entrance stood a carriage with four horses that were snorting with impatience. The malignant Mr. Golyadkin junior in three bounds flew down the stair and opened the carriage door himself. Krestyan Ivanovitch, with an impressive gesture, asked Mr. Golyadkin to get in. There was no need of the impressive gesture, however; there were plenty of people to help him in… . Faint with horror, Mr. Golyadkin looked back. The whole of the brightly lighted staircase was crowded with people; inquisitive eyes were looking at him from all sides; Olsufy Ivanovitch himself was sitting in his easy chair on the top landing, and watching all that took place with deep interest. Every one was waiting. A murmur of impatience passed through the crowd when Mr. Golyadkin looked back.

“I hope I have done nothing … nothing reprehensible … or that can call for severity … and general attention in regard to my official relations,” our hero brought out in desperation. A clamour of talk rose all round him, all were shaking their head, tears started from Mr. Golyadkin’s eyes.

“In that case I’m ready … I have full confidence … and I entrust my fate to Krestyan Ivanovitch… .”

No sooner had Mr. Golyadkin declared that he entrusted his fate to Krestyan Ivanovitch than a dreadful, deafening shout of joy came from all surrounding him and was repeated in a sinister echo through the whole of the waiting crowd. Then Krestyan Ivanovitch on one side and Andrey Filippovitch on the other helped Mr. Golyadkin into the carriage; his double, in his usual nasty way, was helping to get him in from behind. The unhappy Mr. Golyadkin senior took his last look on all and everything, and, shivering like a kitten that has been drenched with cold water - if the comparison may be permitted - got into the carriage. Krestyan Ivanovitch followed him immediately. The carriage door slammed. There was a swish of the whip on the horses’ backs… the horses started off… . The crowd dashed after Mr. Golyadkin. The shrill, furious shouts of his enemies pursued him by way of good wishes for his journey. For some time several persons were still running by the carriage that bore away Mr. Golyadkin; but by degrees they were left behind, till at last they all disappeared. Mr. Golyadkin’s unworthy twin kept up longer than any one. With his hands in the trouser pockets of his green uniform he ran on with a satisfied air, skipping first to one and then to the other side of the carriage, sometimes catching hold of the window-frame and hanging on by it, poking his head in at the window, and throwing farewell kisses to Mr. Golyadkin. But he began to get tired, he was less and less often to be seen, and at last vanished altogether. There was a dull ache in Mr. Golyadkin’s heart; a hot rush of blood set Mr. Golyadkin’s head throbbing; he felt stifled, he longed to unbutton himself - to bare his breast, to cover it with snow and pour cold water on it. He sank at last into forgetfulness… .

When he came to himself, he saw that the horses were taking him along an unfamiliar road. There were dark patches of copse on each side of it; it was desolate and deserted. Suddenly he almost swooned; two fiery eyes were staring at him in the darkness, and those two eyes were glittering with malignant, hellish glee. “That’s not Krestyan Ivanovitch! Who is it? Or is it he? It is. It is Krestyan Ivanovitch, but not the old Krestyan Ivanovitch, it’s another Krestyan Ivanovitch! It’s a terrible Krestyan Ivanovitch!” …

“Krestyan Ivanovitch, I … I believe … I’m all right, Krestyan Ivanovitch,” our hero was beginning timidly in a trembling voice, hoping by his meekness and submission to soften the terrible Krestyan Ivanovitch a little.

“You get free quarters, wood, with light, and service, the which you deserve not,” Krestyan Ivanovitch’s answer rang out, stern and terrible as a judge’s sentence.

Our hero shrieked and clutched his head in his hands. Alas! For a long while he had been haunted by a presentiment of this.

The Gambler

Translated by CJ Hogarth


At length I returned from two weeks leave of absence to find that my patrons had arrived three days ago in Roulettenberg. I received from them a welcome quite different to that which I had expected. The General eyed me coldly, greeted me in rather haughty fashion, and dismissed me to pay my respects to his sister. It was clear that from SOMEWHERE money had been acquired. I thought I could even detect a certain shamefacedness in the General’s glance. Maria Philipovna, too, seemed distraught, and conversed with me with an air of detachment. Nevertheless, she took the money which I handed to her, counted it, and listened to what I had to tell. To luncheon there were expected that day a Monsieur Mezentsov, a French lady, and an Englishman; for, whenever money was in hand, a banquet in Muscovite style was always given. Polina Alexandrovna, on seeing me, inquired why I had been so long away. Then, without waiting for an answer, she departed. Evidently this was not mere accident, and I felt that I must throw some light upon matters. It was high time that I did so.

I was assigned a small room on the fourth floor of the hotel (for you must know that I belonged to the General’s suite). So far as I could see, the party had already gained some notoriety in the place, which had come to look upon the General as a Russian nobleman of great wealth. Indeed, even before luncheon he charged me, among other things, to get two thousand-franc notes changed for him at the hotel counter, which put us in a position to be thought millionaires at all events for a week! Later, I was about to take Mischa and Nadia for a walk when a summons reached me from the staircase that I must attend the General. He began by deigning to inquire of me where I was going to take the children; and as he did so, I could see that he failed to look me in the eyes. He WANTED to do so, but each time was met by me with such a fixed, disrespectful stare that he desisted in confusion. In pompous language, however, which jumbled one sentence into another, and at length grew disconnected, he gave me to understand that I was to lead the children altogether away from the Casino, and out into the park. Finally his anger exploded, and he added sharply:

“I suppose you would like to take them to the Casino to play roulette? Well, excuse my speaking so plainly, but I know how addicted you are to gambling. Though I am not your mentor, nor wish to be, at least I have a right to require that you shall not actually compromise me.”

“I have no money for gambling,” I quietly replied.

“But you will soon be in receipt of some,” retorted the General, reddening a little as he dived into his writing desk and applied himself to a memorandum book. From it he saw that he had 120 roubles of mine in his keeping.

“Let us calculate,” he went on. “We must translate these roubles into thalers. Here—take 100 thalers, as a round sum. The rest will be safe in my hands.”

In silence I took the money.

“You must not be offended at what I say,” he continued. “You are too touchy about these things. What I have said I have said merely as a warning. To do so is no more than my right.”

When returning home with the children before luncheon, I met a cavalcade of our party riding to view some ruins. Two splendid carriages, magnificently horsed, with Mlle. Blanche, Maria Philipovna, and Polina Alexandrovna in one of them, and the Frenchman, the Englishman, and the General in attendance on horseback! The passers-by stopped to stare at them, for the effect was splendid—the General could not have improved upon it. I calculated that, with the 4000 francs which I had brought with me, added to what my patrons seemed already to have acquired, the party must be in possession of at least 7000 or 8000 francs—though that would be none too much for Mlle. Blanche, who, with her mother and the Frenchman, was also lodging in our hotel. The latter gentleman was called by the lacqueys “Monsieur le Comte,” and Mlle. Blanche’s mother was dubbed “Madame la Comtesse.” Perhaps in very truth they WERE “Comte et Comtesse.”

I knew that “Monsieur le Comte” would take no notice of me when we met at dinner, as also that the General would not dream of introducing us, nor of recommending me to the “Comte.” However, the latter had lived awhile in Russia, and knew that the person referred to as an “uchitel” is never looked upon as a bird of fine feather. Of course, strictly speaking, he knew me; but I was an uninvited guest at the luncheon—the General had forgotten to arrange otherwise, or I should have been dispatched to dine at the table d’hote. Nevertheless, I presented myself in such guise that the General looked at me with a touch of approval; and, though the good Maria Philipovna was for showing me my place, the fact of my having previously met the Englishman, Mr. Astley, saved me, and thenceforward I figured as one of the company.

This strange Englishman I had met first in Prussia, where we had happened to sit vis-a-vis in a railway train in which I was travelling to overtake our party; while, later, I had run across him in France, and again in Switzerland—twice within the space of two weeks! To think, therefore, that I should suddenly encounter him again here, in Roulettenberg! Never in my life had I known a more retiring man, for he was shy to the pitch of imbecility, yet well aware of the fact (for he was no fool). At the same time, he was a gentle, amiable sort of an individual, and, even on our first encounter in Prussia I had contrived to draw him out, and he had told me that he had just been to the North Cape, and was now anxious to visit the fair at Nizhni Novgorod. How he had come to make the General’s acquaintance I do not know, but, apparently, he was much struck with Polina. Also, he was delighted that I should sit next him at table, for he appeared to look upon me as his bosom friend.

During the meal the Frenchman was in great feather: he was discursive and pompous to every one. In Moscow too, I remembered, he had blown a great many bubbles. Interminably he discoursed on finance and Russian politics, and though, at times, the General made feints to contradict him, he did so humbly, and as though wishing not wholly to lose sight of his own dignity.

For myself, I was in a curious frame of mind. Even before luncheon was half finished I had asked myself the old, eternal question: “WHY do I continue to dance attendance upon the General, instead of having left him and his family long ago?” Every now and then I would glance at Polina Alexandrovna, but she paid me no attention; until eventually I became so irritated that I decided to play the boor.

First of all I suddenly, and for no reason whatever, plunged loudly and gratuitously into the general conversation. Above everything I wanted to pick a quarrel with the Frenchman; and, with that end in view I turned to the General, and exclaimed in an overbearing sort of way—indeed, I think that I actually interrupted him—that that summer it had been almost impossible for a Russian to dine anywhere at tables d’hote. The General bent upon me a glance of astonishment.

“If one is a man of self-respect,” I went on, “one risks abuse by so doing, and is forced to put up with insults of every kind. Both at Paris and on the Rhine, and even in Switzerland—there are so many Poles, with their sympathisers, the French, at these tables d’hote that one cannot get a word in edgeways if one happens only to be a Russian.”

This I said in French. The General eyed me doubtfully, for he did not know whether to be angry or merely to feel surprised that I should so far forget myself.

“Of course, one always learns SOMETHING EVERYWHERE,” said the Frenchman in a careless, contemptuous sort of tone.

“In Paris, too, I had a dispute with a Pole,” I continued, “and then with a French officer who supported him. After that a section of the Frenchmen present took my part. They did so as soon as I told them the story of how once I threatened to spit into Monsignor’s coffee.”

“To spit into it?” the General inquired with grave disapproval in his tone, and a stare, of astonishment, while the Frenchman looked at me unbelievingly.

“Just so,” I replied. “You must know that, on one occasion, when, for two days, I had felt certain that at any moment I might have to depart for Rome on business, I repaired to the Embassy of the Holy See in Paris, to have my passport visaed. There I encountered a sacristan of about fifty, and a man dry and cold of mien. After listening politely, but with great reserve, to my account of myself, this sacristan asked me to wait a little. I was in a great hurry to depart, but of course I sat down, pulled out a copy of L’Opinion Nationale, and fell to reading an extraordinary piece of invective against Russia which it happened to contain. As I was thus engaged I heard some one enter an adjoining room and ask for Monsignor; after which I saw the sacristan make a low bow to the visitor, and then another bow as the visitor took his leave. I ventured to remind the good man of my own business also; whereupon, with an expression of, if anything, increased dryness, he again asked me to wait. Soon a third visitor arrived who, like myself, had come on business (he was an Austrian of some sort); and as soon as ever he had stated his errand he was conducted upstairs! This made me very angry. I rose, approached the sacristan, and told him that, since Monsignor was receiving callers, his lordship might just as well finish off my affair as well. Upon this the sacristan shrunk back in astonishment. It simply passed his understanding that any insignificant Russian should dare to compare himself with other visitors of Monsignor’s! In a tone of the utmost effrontery, as though he were delighted to have a chance of insulting me, he looked me up and down, and then said: “Do you suppose that Monsignor is going to put aside his coffee for YOU?” But I only cried the louder: “Let me tell you that I am going to SPIT into that coffee! Yes, and if you do not get me my passport visaed this very minute, I shall take it to Monsignor myself.”

“What? While he is engaged with a Cardinal? screeched the sacristan, again shrinking back in horror. Then, rushing to the door, he spread out his arms as though he would rather die than let me enter.

Thereupon I declared that I was a heretic and a barbarian—“Je suis heretique et barbare,” I said, “and that these archbishops and cardinals and monsignors, and the rest of them, meant nothing at all to me. In a word, I showed him that I was not going to give way. He looked at me with an air of infinite resentment. Then he snatched up my passport, and departed with it upstairs. A minute later the passport had been visaed! Here it is now, if you care to see it,”—and I pulled out the document, and exhibited the Roman visa.

“But—” the General began.

“What really saved you was the fact that you proclaimed yourself a heretic and a barbarian,” remarked the Frenchman with a smile. “Cela n’etait pas si bete.”

“But is that how Russian subjects ought to be treated? Why, when they settle here they dare not utter even a word—they are ready even to deny the fact that they are Russians! At all events, at my hotel in Paris I received far more attention from the company after I had told them about the fracas with the sacristan. A fat Polish nobleman, who had been the most offensive of all who were present at the table d’hote, at once went upstairs, while some of the Frenchmen were simply disgusted when I told them that two years ago I had encountered a man at whom, in 1812, a French ‘hero’ fired for the mere fun of discharging his musket. That man was then a boy of ten and his family are still residing in Moscow.”

“Impossible!” the Frenchman spluttered. “No French soldier would fire at a child!”

“Nevertheless the incident was as I say,” I replied. “A very respected ex-captain told me the story, and I myself could see the scar left on his cheek.”

The Frenchman then began chattering volubly, and the General supported him; but I recommended the former to read, for example, extracts from the memoirs of General Perovski, who, in 1812, was a prisoner in the hands of the French. Finally Maria Philipovna said something to interrupt the conversation. The General was furious with me for having started the altercation with the Frenchman. On the other hand, Mr. Astley seemed to take great pleasure in my brush with Monsieur, and, rising from the table, proposed that we should go and have a drink together. The same afternoon, at four o’clock, I went to have my customary talk with Polina Alexandrovna; and, the talk soon extended to a stroll. We entered the Park, and approached the Casino, where Polina seated herself upon a bench near the fountain, and sent Nadia away to a little distance to play with some other children. Mischa also I dispatched to play by the fountain, and in this fashion we—that is to say, Polina and myself—contrived to find ourselves alone.

Of course, we began by talking on business matters. Polina seemed furious when I handed her only 700 gulden, for she had thought to receive from Paris, as the proceeds of the pledging of her diamonds, at least 2000 gulden, or even more.

“Come what may, I MUST have money,” she said. “And get it somehow I will—otherwise I shall be ruined.”

I asked her what had happened during my absence.

“Nothing; except that two pieces of news have reached us from St. Petersburg. In the first place, my grandmother is very ill, and unlikely to last another couple of days. We had this from Timothy Petrovitch himself, and he is a reliable person. Every moment we are expecting to receive news of the end.”

“All of you are on the tiptoe of expectation? ” I queried.

“Of course—all of us, and every minute of the day. For a year-and-a-half now we have been looking for this.”

“Looking for it?”

“Yes, looking for it. I am not her blood relation, you know—I am merely the General’s step-daughter. Yet I am certain that the old lady has remembered me in her will.”

“Yes, I believe that you WILL come in for a good deal,” I said with some assurance.

“Yes, for she is fond of me. But how come you to think so?”

I answered this question with another one. “That Marquis of yours,” I said, “—is HE also familiar with your family secrets?”

“And why are you yourself so interested in them?” was her retort as she eyed me with dry grimness.

“Never mind. If I am not mistaken, the General has succeeded in borrowing money of the Marquis.”

“It may be so.”

“Is it likely that the Marquis would have lent the money if he had not known something or other about your grandmother? Did you notice, too, that three times during luncheon, when speaking of her, he called her ‘La Baboulenka’? [Dear little Grandmother]. What loving, friendly behaviour, to be sure!”

“Yes, that is true. As soon as ever he learnt that I was likely to inherit something from her he began to pay me his addresses. I thought you ought to know that.”

“Then he has only just begun his courting? Why, I thought he had been doing so a long while!”

“You KNOW he has not,” retorted Polina angrily. “But where on earth did you pick up this Englishman?” She said this after a pause.

“I KNEW you would ask about him!” Whereupon I told her of my previous encounters with Astley while travelling.

“He is very shy,” I said, “and susceptible. Also, he is in love with you.—”

“Yes, he is in love with me,” she replied.

“And he is ten times richer than the Frenchman. In fact, what does the Frenchman possess? To me it seems at least doubtful that he possesses anything at all.”

“Oh, no, there is no doubt about it. He does possess some chateau or other. Last night the General told me that for certain. NOW are you satisfied? “

“Nevertheless, in your place I should marry the Englishman.”

“And why?” asked Polina.

“Because, though the Frenchman is the handsomer of the two, he is also the baser; whereas the Englishman is not only a man of honour, but ten times the wealthier of the pair.”

“Yes? But then the Frenchman is a marquis, and the cleverer of the two,” remarked Polina imperturbably.

“Is that so?” I repeated.

“Yes; absolutely.”

Polina was not at all pleased at my questions; I could see that she was doing her best to irritate me with the brusquerie of her answers. But I took no notice of this.

“It amuses me to see you grow angry,” she continued. “However, inasmuch as I allow you to indulge in these questions and conjectures, you ought to pay me something for the privilege.”

“I consider that I have a perfect right to put these questions to you,” was my calm retort; “for the reason that I am ready to pay for them, and also care little what becomes of me.”

Polina giggled.

“Last time you told me—when on the Shlangenberg—that at a word from me you would be ready to jump down a thousand feet into the abyss. Some day I may remind you of that saying, in order to see if you will be as good as your word. Yes, you may depend upon it that I shall do so. I hate you because I have allowed you to go to such lengths, and I also hate you and still more—because you are so necessary to me. For the time being I want you, so I must keep you.”

Then she made a movement to rise. Her tone had sounded very angry. Indeed, of late her talks with me had invariably ended on a note of temper and irritation—yes, of real temper.

“May I ask you who is this Mlle. Blanche?” I inquired (since I did not wish Polina to depart without an explanation).

“You KNOW who she is—just Mlle. Blanche. Nothing further has transpired. Probably she will soon be Madame General—that is to say, if the rumours that Grandmamma is nearing her end should prove true. Mlle. Blanche, with her mother and her cousin, the Marquis, know very well that, as things now stand, we are ruined.”

“And is the General at last in love?”

“That has nothing to do with it. Listen to me. Take these 700 florins, and go and play roulette with them. Win as much for me as you can, for I am badly in need of money.

So saying, she called Nadia back to her side, and entered the Casino, where she joined the rest of our party. For myself, I took, in musing astonishment, the first path to the left. Something had seemed to strike my brain when she told me to go and play roulette. Strangely enough, that something had also seemed to make me hesitate, and to set me analysing my feelings with regard to her. In fact, during the two weeks of my absence I had felt far more at my ease than I did now, on the day of my return; although, while travelling, I had moped like an imbecile, rushed about like a man in a fever, and actually beheld her in my dreams. Indeed, on one occasion (this happened in Switzerland, when I was asleep in the train) I had spoken aloud to her, and set all my fellow-travellers laughing. Again, therefore, I put to myself the question: “Do I, or do I not love her?” and again I could return myself no answer or, rather, for the hundredth time I told myself that I detested her. Yes, I detested her; there were moments (more especially at the close of our talks together) when I would gladly have given half my life to have strangled her! I swear that, had there, at such moments, been a sharp knife ready to my hand, I would have seized that knife with pleasure, and plunged it into her breast. Yet I also swear that if, on the Shlangenberg, she had REALLY said to me, “Leap into that abyss,” I should have leapt into it, and with equal pleasure. Yes, this I knew well. One way or the other, the thing must soon be ended. She, too, knew it in some curious way; the thought that I was fully conscious of her inaccessibility, and of the impossibility of my ever realising my dreams, afforded her, I am certain, the keenest possible pleasure. Otherwise, is it likely that she, the cautious and clever woman that she was, would have indulged in this familiarity and openness with me? Hitherto (I concluded) she had looked upon me in the same light that the old Empress did upon her servant—the Empress who hesitated not to unrobe herself before her slave, since she did not account a slave a man. Yes, often Polina must have taken me for something less than a man!”

Still, she had charged me with a commission—to win what I could at roulette. Yet all the time I could not help wondering WHY it was so necessary for her to win something, and what new schemes could have sprung to birth in her ever-fertile brain. A host of new and unknown factors seemed to have arisen during the last two weeks. Well, it behoved me to divine them, and to probe them, and that as soon as possible. Yet not now: at the present moment I must repair to the roulette-table.


I confess I did not like it. Although I had made up my mind to play, I felt averse to doing so on behalf of some one else. In fact, it almost upset my balance, and I entered the gaming rooms with an angry feeling at my heart. At first glance the scene irritated me. Never at any time have I been able to bear the flunkeyishness which one meets in the Press of the world at large, but more especially in that of Russia, where, almost every evening, journalists write on two subjects in particular namely, on the splendour and luxury of the casinos to be found in the Rhenish towns, and on the heaps of gold which are daily to be seen lying on their tables. Those journalists are not paid for doing so: they write thus merely out of a spirit of disinterested complaisance. For there is nothing splendid about the establishments in question; and, not only are there no heaps of gold to be seen lying on their tables, but also there is very little money to be seen at all. Of course, during the season, some madman or another may make his appearance—generally an Englishman, or an Asiatic, or a Turk—and (as had happened during the summer of which I write) win or lose a great deal; but, as regards the rest of the crowd, it plays only for petty gulden, and seldom does much wealth figure on the board.

When, on the present occasion, I entered the gaming-rooms (for the first time in my life), it was several moments before I could even make up my mind to play. For one thing, the crowd oppressed me. Had I been playing for myself, I think I should have left at once, and never have embarked upon gambling at all, for I could feel my heart beginning to beat, and my heart was anything but cold-blooded. Also, I knew, I had long ago made up my mind, that never should I depart from Roulettenberg until some radical, some final, change had taken place in my fortunes. Thus, it must and would be. However ridiculous it may seem to you that I was expecting to win at roulette, I look upon the generally accepted opinion concerning the folly and the grossness of hoping to win at gambling as a thing even more absurd. For why is gambling a whit worse than any other method of acquiring money? How, for instance, is it worse than trade? True, out of a hundred persons, only one can win; yet what business is that of yours or of mine?

At all events, I confined myself at first simply to looking on, and decided to attempt nothing serious. Indeed, I felt that, if I began to do anything at all, I should do it in an absent-minded, haphazard sort of way—of that I felt certain. Also. it behoved me to learn the game itself; since, despite a thousand descriptions of roulette which I had read with ceaseless avidity, I knew nothing of its rules, and had never even seen it played.

In the first place, everything about it seemed to me so foul—so morally mean and foul. Yet I am not speaking of the hungry, restless folk who, by scores nay, even by hundreds—could be seen crowded around the gaming-tables. For in a desire to win quickly and to win much I can see nothing sordid; I have always applauded the opinion of a certain dead and gone, but cocksure, moralist who replied to the excuse that ” one may always gamble moderately “, by saying that to do so makes things worse, since, in that case, the profits too will always be moderate.

Insignificant profits and sumptuous profits do not stand on the same footing. No, it is all a matter of proportion. What may seem a small sum to a Rothschild may seem a large sum to me, and it is not the fault of stakes or of winnings that everywhere men can be found winning, can be found depriving their fellows of something, just as they do at roulette. As to the question whether stakes and winnings are, in themselves, immoral is another question altogether, and I wish to express no opinion upon it. Yet the very fact that I was full of a strong desire to win caused this gambling for gain, in spite of its attendant squalor, to contain, if you will, something intimate, something sympathetic, to my eyes: for it is always pleasant to see men dispensing with ceremony, and acting naturally, and in an unbuttoned mood… .

Yet, why should I so deceive myself? I could see that the whole thing was a vain and unreasoning pursuit; and what, at the first glance, seemed to me the ugliest feature in this mob of roulette players was their respect for their occupation—the seriousness, and even the humility, with which they stood around the gaming tables. Moreover, I had always drawn sharp distinctions between a game which is de mauvais genre and a game which is permissible to a decent man. In fact, there are two sorts of gaming—namely, the game of the gentleman and the game of the plebs—the game for gain, and the game of the herd. Herein, as said, I draw sharp distinctions. Yet how essentially base are the distinctions! For instance, a gentleman may stake, say, five or ten louis d’or—seldom more, unless he is a very rich man, when he may stake, say, a thousand francs; but, he must do this simply for the love of the game itself—simply for sport, simply in order to observe the process of winning or of losing, and, above all things, as a man who remains quite uninterested in the possibility of his issuing a winner. If he wins, he will be at liberty, perhaps, to give vent to a laugh, or to pass a remark on the circumstance to a bystander, or to stake again, or to double his stake; but, even this he must do solely out of curiosity, and for the pleasure of watching the play of chances and of calculations, and not because of any vulgar desire to win. In a word, he must look upon the gaming-table, upon roulette, and upon trente et quarante, as mere relaxations which have been arranged solely for his amusement. Of the existence of the lures and gains upon which the bank is founded and maintained he must profess to have not an inkling. Best of all, he ought to imagine his fellow-gamblers and the rest of the mob which stands trembling over a coin to be equally rich and gentlemanly with himself, and playing solely for recreation and pleasure. This complete ignorance of the realities, this innocent view of mankind, is what, in my opinion, constitutes the truly aristocratic. For instance, I have seen even fond mothers so far indulge their guileless, elegant daughters—misses of fifteen or sixteen—as to give them a few gold coins and teach them how to play; and though the young ladies may have won or have lost, they have invariably laughed, and departed as though they were well pleased. In the same way, I saw our General once approach the table in a stolid, important manner. A lacquey darted to offer him a chair, but the General did not even notice him. Slowly he took out his money bags, and slowly extracted 300 francs in gold, which he staked on the black, and won. Yet he did not take up his winnings—he left them there on the table. Again the black turned up, and again he did not gather in what he had won; and when, in the third round, the RED turned up he lost, at a stroke, 1200 francs. Yet even then he rose with a smile, and thus preserved his reputation; yet I knew that his money bags must be chafing his heart, as well as that, had the stake been twice or thrice as much again, he would still have restrained himself from venting his disappointment.

On the other hand, I saw a Frenchman first win, and then lose, 30,000 francs cheerfully, and without a murmur. Yes; even if a gentleman should lose his whole substance, he must never give way to annoyance. Money must be so subservient to gentility as never to be worth a thought. Of course, the SUPREMELY aristocratic thing is to be entirely oblivious of the mire of rabble, with its setting; but sometimes a reverse course may be aristocratic to remark, to scan, and even to gape at, the mob (for preference, through a lorgnette), even as though one were taking the crowd and its squalor for a sort of raree show which had been organised specially for a gentleman’s diversion. Though one may be squeezed by the crowd, one must look as though one were fully assured of being the observer—of having neither part nor lot with the observed. At the same time, to stare fixedly about one is unbecoming; for that, again, is ungentlemanly, seeing that no spectacle is worth an open stare—are no spectacles in the world which merit from a gentleman too pronounced an inspection.

However, to me personally the scene DID seem to be worth undisguised contemplation—more especially in view of the fact that I had come there not only to look at, but also to number myself sincerely and wholeheartedly with, the mob. As for my secret moral views,. I had no room for them amongst my actual, practical opinions. Let that stand as written: I am writing only to relieve my conscience. Yet let me say also this: that from the first I have been consistent in having an intense aversion to any trial of my acts and thoughts by a moral standard. Another standard altogether has directed my life… .

As a matter of fact, the mob was playing in exceedingly foul fashion. Indeed, I have an idea that sheer robbery was going on around that gaming-table. The croupiers who sat at the two ends of it had not only to watch the stakes, but also to calculate the game—an immense amount of work for two men! As for the crowd itself—well, it consisted mostly of Frenchmen. Yet I was not then taking notes merely in order to be able to give you a description of roulette, but in order to get my bearings as to my behaviour when I myself should begin to play. For example, I noticed that nothing was more common than for another’s hand to stretch out and grab one’s winnings whenever one had won. Then there would arise a dispute, and frequently an uproar; and it would be a case of “I beg of you to prove, and to produce witnesses to the fact, that the stake is yours.”

At first the proceedings were pure Greek to me. I could only divine and distinguish that stakes were hazarded on numbers, on “odd” or “even,” and on colours. Polina’s money I decided to risk, that evening, only to the amount of 100 gulden. The thought that I was not going to play for myself quite unnerved me. It was an unpleasant sensation, and I tried hard to banish it. I had a feeling that, once I had begun to play for Polina, I should wreck my own fortunes. Also, I wonder if any one has EVER approached a gaming-table without falling an immediate prey to superstition? I began by pulling out fifty gulden, and staking them on “even.” The wheel spun and stopped at 13. I had lost! With a feeling like a sick qualm, as though I would like to make my way out of the crowd and go home, I staked another fifty gulden—this time on the red. The red turned up. Next time I staked the 100 gulden just where they lay—and again the red turned up. Again I staked the whole sum, and again the red turned up. Clutching my 400 gulden, I placed 200 of them on twelve figures, to see what would come of it. The result was that the croupier paid me out three times my total stake! Thus from 100 gulden my store had grown to 800! Upon that such a curious, such an inexplicable, unwonted feeling overcame me that I decided to depart. Always the thought kept recurring to me that if I had been playing for myself alone I should never have had such luck. Once more I staked the whole 800 gulden on the “even.” The wheel stopped at 4. I was paid out another 800 gulden, and, snatching up my pile of 1600, departed in search of Polina Alexandrovna.

I found the whole party walking in the park, and was able to get an interview with her only after supper. This time the Frenchman was absent from the meal, and the General seemed to be in a more expansive vein. Among other things, he thought it necessary to remind me that he would be sorry to see me playing at the gaming-tables. In his opinion, such conduct would greatly compromise him—especially if I were to lose much. ” And even if you were to WIN much I should be compromised,” he added in a meaning sort of way. “Of course I have no RIGHT to order your actions, but you yourself will agree that…” As usual, he did not finish his sentence. I answered drily that I had very little money in my possession, and that, consequently, I was hardly in a position to indulge in any conspicuous play, even if I did gamble. At last, when ascending to my own room, I succeeded in handing Polina her winnings, and told her that, next time, I should not play for her.

“Why not?” she asked excitedly.

“Because I wish to play FOR MYSELF,” I replied with a feigned glance of astonishment. “That is my sole reason.”

“Then are you so certain that your roulette-playing will get us out of our difficulties?” she inquired with a quizzical smile.

I said very seriously, “Yes,” and then added: “Possibly my certainty about winning may seem to you ridiculous; yet, pray leave me in peace.”

Nonetheless she insisted that I ought to go halves with her in the day’s winnings, and offered me 800 gulden on condition that henceforth, I gambled only on those terms; but I refused to do so, once and for all—stating, as my reason, that I found myself unable to play on behalf of any one else, “I am not unwilling so to do,” I added, “but in all probability I should lose.”

“Well, absurd though it be, I place great hopes on your playing of roulette,” she remarked musingly; “wherefore, you ought to play as my partner and on equal shares; wherefore, of course, you will do as I wish.”

Then she left me without listening to any further protests on my part.


On the morrow she said not a word to me about gambling. In fact, she purposely avoided me, although her old manner to me had not changed: the same serene coolness was hers on meeting me — a coolness that was mingled even with a spice of contempt and dislike. In short, she was at no pains to conceal her aversion to me. That I could see plainly. Also, she did not trouble to conceal from me the fact that I was necessary to her, and that she was keeping me for some end which she had in view. Consequently there became established between us relations which, to a large extent, were incomprehensible to me, considering her general pride and aloofness. For example, although she knew that I was madly in love with her, she allowed me to speak to her of my passion (though she could not well have showed her contempt for me more than by permitting me, unhindered and unrebuked, to mention to her my love).

“You see,” her attitude expressed, “how little I regard your feelings, as well as how little I care for what you say to me, or for what you feel for me.” Likewise, though she spoke as before concerning her affairs, it was never with complete frankness. In her contempt for me there were refinements. Although she knew well that I was aware of a certain circumstance in her life of something which might one day cause her trouble, she would speak to me about her affairs (whenever she had need of me for a given end) as though I were a slave or a passing acquaintance—yet tell them me only in so far as one would need to know them if one were going to be made temporary use of. Had I not known the whole chain of events, or had she not seen how much I was pained and disturbed by her teasing insistency, she would never have thought it worthwhile to soothe me with this frankness—even though, since she not infrequently used me to execute commissions that were not only troublesome, but risky, she ought, in my opinion, to have been frank in ANY case. But, forsooth, it was not worth her while to trouble about MY feelings—about the fact that I was uneasy, and, perhaps, thrice as put about by her cares and misfortunes as she was herself!

For three weeks I had known of her intention to take to roulette. She had even warned me that she would like me to play on her behalf, since it was unbecoming for her to play in person; and, from the tone of her words I had gathered that there was something on her mind besides a mere desire to win money. As if money could matter to HER! No, she had some end in view, and there were circumstances at which I could guess, but which I did not know for certain. True, the slavery and abasement in which she held me might have given me (such things often do so) the power to question her with abrupt directness (seeing that,, inasmuch as I figured in her eyes as a mere slave and nonentity, she could not very well have taken offence at any rude curiosity); but the fact was that, though she let me question her, she never returned me a single answer, and at times did not so much as notice me. That is how matters stood.

Next day there was a good deal of talk about a telegram which, four days ago, had been sent to St. Petersburg, but to which there had come no answer. The General was visibly disturbed and moody, for the matter concerned his mother. The Frenchman, too, was excited, and after dinner the whole party talked long and seriously together—the Frenchman’s tone being extraordinarily presumptuous and offhand to everybody. It almost reminded one of the proverb, “Invite a man to your table, and soon he will place his feet upon it.” Even to Polina he was brusque almost to the point of rudeness. Yet still he seemed glad to join us in our walks in the Casino, or in our rides and drives about the town. I had long been aware of certain circumstances which bound the General to him; I had long been aware that in Russia they had hatched some scheme together although I did not know whether the plot had come to anything, or whether it was still only in the stage of being talked of. Likewise I was aware, in part, of a family secret—namely, that, last year, the Frenchman had bailed the General out of debt, and given him 30,000 roubles wherewith to pay his Treasury dues on retiring from the service. And now, of course, the General was in a vice — although the chief part in the affair was being played by Mlle. Blanche. Yes, of this last I had no doubt.

But WHO was this Mlle. Blanche? It was said of her that she was a Frenchwoman of good birth who, living with her mother, possessed a colossal fortune. It was also said that she was some relation to the Marquis, but only a distant one a cousin, or cousin-german, or something of the sort. Likewise I knew that, up to the time of my journey to Paris, she and the Frenchman had been more ceremonious towards our party—they had stood on a much more precise and delicate footing with them; but that now their acquaintanceship—their friendship, their intimacy—had taken on a much more off-hand and rough-and-ready air. Perhaps they thought that our means were too modest for them, and, therefore, unworthy of politeness or reticence. Also, for the last three days I had noticed certain looks which Astley had kept throwing at Mlle. Blanche and her mother; and it had occurred to me that he must have had some previous acquaintance with the pair. I had even surmised that the Frenchman too must have met Mr. Astley before. Astley was a man so shy, reserved, and taciturn in his manner that one might have looked for anything from him. At all events the Frenchman accorded him only the slightest of greetings, and scarcely even looked at him. Certainly he did not seem to be afraid of him; which was intelligible enough. But why did Mlle. Blanche also never look at the Englishman?—particularly since, a propos of something or another, the Marquis had declared the Englishman to be immensely and indubitably rich? Was not that a sufficient reason to make Mlle. Blanche look at the Englishman? Anyway the General seemed extremely uneasy; and, one could well understand what a telegram to announce the death of his mother would mean for him!

Although I thought it probable that Polina was avoiding me for a definite reason, I adopted a cold and indifferent air; for I felt pretty certain that it would not be long before she herself approached me. For two days, therefore, I devoted my attention to Mlle. Blanche. The poor General was in despair! To fall in love at fifty-five, and with such vehemence, is indeed a misfortune! And add to that his widowerhood, his children, his ruined property, his debts, and the woman with whom he had fallen in love! Though Mlle. Blanche was extremely good-looking, I may or may not be understood when I say that she had one of those faces which one is afraid of. At all events, I myself have always feared such women. Apparently about twenty-five years of age, she was tall and broad-shouldered, with shoulders that sloped; yet though her neck and bosom were ample in their proportions, her skin was dull yellow in colour, while her hair (which was extremely abundant—sufficient to make two coiffures) was as black as Indian ink. Add to that a pair of black eyes with yellowish whites, a proud glance, gleaming teeth, and lips which were perennially pomaded and redolent of musk. As for her dress, it was invariably rich, effective, and chic, yet in good taste. Lastly, her feet and hands were astonishing, and her voice a deep contralto. Sometimes, when she laughed, she displayed her teeth, but at ordinary times her air was taciturn and haughty—especially in the presence of Polina and Maria Philipovna. Yet she seemed to me almost destitute of education, and even of wits, though cunning and suspicious. This, apparently, was not because her life had been lacking in incident. Perhaps, if all were known, the Marquis was not her kinsman at all, nor her mother, her mother; but there was evidence that, in Berlin, where we had first come across the pair, they had possessed acquaintances of good standing. As for the Marquis himself, I doubt to this day if he was a Marquis—although about the fact that he had formerly belonged to high society (for instance, in Moscow and Germany) there could be no doubt whatever. What he had formerly been in France I had not a notion. All I knew was that he was said to possess a chateau. During the last two weeks I had looked for much to transpire, but am still ignorant whether at that time anything decisive ever passed between Mademoiselle and the General. Everything seemed to depend upon our means—upon whether the General would be able to flourish sufficient money in her face. If ever the news should arrive that the grandmother was not dead, Mlle. Blanche, I felt sure, would disappear in a twinkling. Indeed, it surprised and amused me to observe what a passion for intrigue I was developing. But how I loathed it all! With what pleasure would I have given everybody and everything the go-by! Only—I could not leave Polina. How, then, could I show contempt for those who surrounded her? Espionage is a base thing, but—what have I to do with that?

Mr. Astley, too, I found a curious person. I was only sure that he had fallen in love With Polina. A remarkable and diverting circumstance is the amount which may lie in the mien of a shy and painfully modest man who has been touched with the divine passion—especially when he would rather sink into the earth than betray himself by a single word or look. Though Mr. Astley frequently met us when we were out walking, he would merely take off his hat and pass us by, though I knew he was dying to join us. Even when invited to do so, he would refuse. Again, in places of amusement—in the Casino, at concerts, or near the fountain—he was never far from the spot where we were sitting. In fact, WHEREVER we were in the Park, in the forest, or on the Shlangenberg—one needed but to raise one’s eyes and glance around to catch sight of at least a PORTION of Mr. Astley’s frame sticking out—whether on an adjacent path or behind a bush. Yet never did he lose any chance of speaking to myself; and, one morning when we had met, and exchanged a couple of words, he burst out in his usual abrupt way, without saying “Good-morning.”

“That Mlle. Blanche,” he said. “Well, I have seen a good many women like her.”

After that he was silent as he looked me meaningly in the face. What he meant I did not know, but to my glance of inquiry he returned only a dry nod, and a reiterated “It is so.” Presently, however, he resumed:

“Does Mlle. Polina like flowers?”

” I really cannot say,” was my reply.

“What? You cannot say?” he cried in great astonishment.

“No; I have never noticed whether she does so or not,” I repeated with a smile.

“Hm! Then I have an idea in my mind,” he concluded. Lastly, with a nod, he walked away with a pleased expression on his face. The conversation had been carried on in execrable French.


Today has been a day of folly, stupidity, and ineptness. The time is now eleven o’clock in the evening, and I am sitting in my room and thinking. It all began, this morning, with my being forced to go and play roulette for Polina Alexandrovna. When she handed me over her store of six hundred gulden I exacted two conditions —namely, that I should not go halves with her in her winnings, if any (that is to say, I should not take anything for myself), and that she should explain to me, that same evening, why it was so necessary for her to win, and how much was the sum which she needed. For, I could not suppose that she was doing all this merely for the sake of money. Yet clearly she did need some money, and that as soon as possible, and for a special purpose. Well, she promised to explain matters, and I departed. There was a tremendous crowd in the gaming-rooms. What an arrogant, greedy crowd it was! I pressed forward towards the middle of the room until I had secured a seat at a croupier’s elbow. Then I began to play in timid fashion, venturing only twenty or thirty gulden at a time. Meanwhile, I observed and took notes. It seemed to me that calculation was superfluous, and by no means possessed of the importance which certain other players attached to it, even though they sat with ruled papers in their hands, whereon they set down the coups, calculated the chances, reckoned, staked, and—lost exactly as we more simple mortals did who played without any reckoning at all.

However, I deduced from the scene one conclusion which seemed to me reliable —namely, that in the flow of fortuitous chances there is, if not a system, at all events a sort of order. This, of course, is a very strange thing. For instance, after a dozen middle figures there would always occur a dozen or so outer ones. Suppose the ball stopped twice at a dozen outer figures; it would then pass to a dozen of the first ones, and then, again, to a dozen of the middle ciphers, and fall upon them three or four times, and then revert to a dozen outers; whence, after another couple of rounds, the ball would again pass to the first figures, strike upon them once, and then return thrice to the middle series—continuing thus for an hour and a half, or two hours. One, three, two: one, three, two. It was all very curious. Again, for the whole of a day or a morning the red would alternate with the black, but almost without any order, and from moment to moment, so that scarcely two consecutive rounds would end upon either the one or the other. Yet, next day, or, perhaps, the next evening, the red alone would turn up, and attain a run of over two score, and continue so for quite a length of time—say, for a whole day. Of these circumstances the majority were pointed out to me by Mr. Astley, who stood by the gaming-table the whole morning, yet never once staked in person.

For myself, I lost all that I had on me, and with great speed. To begin with, I staked two hundred gulden on ” even,” and won. Then I staked the same amount again, and won: and so on some two or three times. At one moment I must have had in my hands—gathered there within a space of five minutes—about 4000 gulden. That, of course, was the proper moment for me to have departed, but there arose in me a strange sensation as of a challenge to Fate—as of a wish to deal her a blow on the cheek, and to put out my tongue at her. Accordingly I set down the largest stake allowed by the rules—namely, 4000 gulden—and lost. Fired by this mishap, I pulled out all the money left to me, staked it all on the same venture, and—again lost! Then I rose from the table, feeling as though I were stupefied. What had happened to me I did not know; but, before luncheon I told Polina of my losses— until which time I walked about the Park.

At luncheon I was as excited as I had been at the meal three days ago. Mlle. Blanche and the Frenchman were lunching with us, and it appeared that the former had been to the Casino that morning, and had seen my exploits there. So now she showed me more attention when talking to me; while, for his part, the Frenchman approached me, and asked outright if it had been my own money that I had lost. He appeared to be suspicious as to something being on foot between Polina and myself, but I merely fired up, and replied that the money had been all my own.

At this the General seemed extremely surprised, and asked me whence I had procured it; whereupon I replied that, though I had begun only with 100 gulden, six or seven rounds had increased my capital to 5000 or 6000 gulden, and that subsequently I had lost the whole in two rounds.

All this, of course, was plausible enough. During my recital I glanced at Polina, but nothing was to be discerned on her face. However, she had allowed me to fire up without correcting me, and from that I concluded that it was my cue to fire up, and to conceal the fact that I had been playing on her behalf. “At all events,” I thought to myself, “she, in her turn, has promised to give me an explanation to-night, and to reveal to me something or another.”

Although the General appeared to be taking stock of me, he said nothing. Yet I could see uneasiness and annoyance in his face. Perhaps his straitened circumstances made it hard for him to have to hear of piles of gold passing through the hands of an irresponsible fool like myself within the space of a quarter of an hour. Now, I have an idea that, last night, he and the Frenchman had a sharp encounter with one another. At all events they closeted themselves together, and then had a long and vehement discussion; after which the Frenchman departed in what appeared to be a passion, but returned, early this morning, to renew the combat. On hearing of my losses, however, he only remarked with a sharp, and even a malicious, air that “a man ought to go more carefully.” Next, for some reason or another, he added that, “though a great many Russians go in for gambling, they are no good at the game.”

“I think that roulette was devised specially for Russians,” I retorted; and when the Frenchman smiled contemptuously at my reply I further remarked that I was sure I was right; also that, speaking of Russians in the capacity of gamblers, I had far more blame for them than praise—of that he could be quite sure.

“Upon what do you base your opinion?” he inquired.

“Upon the fact that to the virtues and merits of the civilised Westerner there has become historically added—though this is not his chief point—a capacity for acquiring capital; whereas, not only is the Russian incapable of acquiring capital, but also he exhausts it wantonly and of sheer folly. None the less we Russians often need money; wherefore, we are glad of, and greatly devoted to, a method of acquisition like roulette—whereby, in a couple of hours, one may grow rich without doing any work. This method, I repeat, has a great attraction for us, but since we play in wanton fashion, and without taking any trouble, we almost invariably lose.”

“To a certain extent that is true,” assented the Frenchman with a self-satisfied air.

“Oh no, it is not true,” put in the General sternly. “And you,” he added to me, “you ought to be ashamed of yourself for traducing your own country!”

“I beg pardon,” I said. “Yet it would be difficult to say which is the worst of the two—Russian ineptitude or the German method of growing rich through honest toil.”

“What an extraordinary idea,” cried the General.

“And what a RUSSIAN idea!” added the Frenchman.

I smiled, for I was rather glad to have a quarrel with them.

“I would rather live a wandering life in tents,” I cried, “than bow the knee to a German idol!”

“To WHAT idol?” exclaimed the General, now seriously angry.

“To the German method of heaping up riches. I have not been here very long, but I can tell you that what I have seen and verified makes my Tartar blood boil. Good Lord! I wish for no virtues of that kind. Yesterday I went for a walk of about ten versts; and, everywhere I found that things were even as we read of them in good German picture-books — that every house has its ‘Fater,’ who is horribly beneficent and extraordinarily honourable. So honourable is he that it is dreadful to have anything to do with him; and I cannot bear people of that sort. Each such ‘Fater’ has his family, and in the evenings they read improving books aloud. Over their roof-trees there murmur elms and chestnuts; the sun has sunk to his rest; a stork is roosting on the gable; and all is beautifully poetic and touching. Do not be angry, General. Let me tell you something that is even more touching than that. I can remember how, of an evening, my own father, now dead, used to sit under the lime trees in his little garden, and to read books aloud to myself and my mother. Yes, I know how things ought to be done. Yet every German family is bound to slavery and to submission to its ‘Fater.’ They work like oxen, and amass wealth like Jews. Suppose the ‘Fater’ has put by a certain number of gulden which he hands over to his eldest son, in order that the said son may acquire a trade or a small plot of land. Well, one result is to deprive the daughter of a dowry, and so leave her among the unwedded. For the same reason, the parents will have to sell the younger son into bondage or the ranks of the army, in order that he may earn more towards the family capital. Yes, such things ARE done, for I have been making inquiries on the subject. It is all done out of sheer rectitude—out of a rectitude which is magnified to the point of the younger son believing that he has been RIGHTLY sold, and that it is simply idyllic for the victim to rejoice when he is made over into pledge. What more have I to tell? Well, this—that matters bear just as hardly upon the eldest son. Perhaps he has his Gretchen to whom his heart is bound; but he cannot marry her, for the reason that he has not yet amassed sufficient gulden. So, the pair wait on in a mood of sincere and virtuous expectation, and smilingly deposit themselves in pawn the while. Gretchen’s cheeks grow sunken, and she begins to wither; until at last, after some twenty years, their substance has multiplied, and sufficient gulden have been honourably and virtuously accumulated. Then the ‘Fater’ blesses his forty-year-old heir and the thirty-five-year-old Gretchen with the sunken bosom and the scarlet nose; after which he bursts, into tears, reads the pair a lesson on morality, and dies. In turn the eldest son becomes a virtuous ‘Fater,’ and the old story begins again. In fifty or sixty years’ time the grandson of the original ‘Fater’ will have amassed a considerable sum; and that sum he will hand over to, his son, and the latter to HIS son, and so on for several generations; until at length there will issue a Baron Rothschild, or a ‘Hoppe and Company,’ or the devil knows what! Is it not a beautiful spectacle—the spectacle of a century or two of inherited labour, patience, intellect, rectitude, character, perseverance, and calculation, with a stork sitting on the roof above it all? What is more; they think there can never be anything better than this; wherefore, from their point of view they begin to judge the rest of the world, and to censure all who are at fault—that is to say, who are not exactly like themselves. Yes, there you have it in a nutshell. For my own part, I would rather grow fat after the Russian manner, or squander my whole substance at roulette. I have no wish to be ‘Hoppe and Company’ at the end of five generations. I want the money for MYSELF, for in no way do I look upon my personality as necessary to, or meet to be given over to, capital. I may be wrong, but there you have it. Those are MY views.”

“How far you may be right in what you have said I do not know,” remarked the General moodily; “but I DO know that you are becoming an insufferable farceur whenever you are given the least chance.”

As usual, he left his sentence unfinished. Indeed, whenever he embarked upon anything that in the least exceeded the limits of daily small-talk, he left unfinished what he was saying. The Frenchman had listened to me contemptuously, with a slight protruding of his eyes; but, he could not have understood very much of my harangue. As for Polina, she had looked on with serene indifference. She seemed to have heard neither my voice nor any other during the progress of the meal.


Yes, she had been extraordinarily meditative. Yet, on leaving the table, she immediately ordered me to accompany her for a walk. We took the children with us, and set out for the fountain in the Park.

I was in such an irritated frame of mind that in rude and abrupt fashion I blurted out a question as to “why our Marquis de Griers had ceased to accompany her for strolls, or to speak to her for days together.”

“Because he is a brute,” she replied in rather a curious way. It was the first time that I had heard her speak so of De Griers: consequently, I was momentarily awed into silence by this expression of resentment.

“Have you noticed, too, that today he is by no means on good terms with the General?” I went on.

“Yes— and I suppose you want to know why,” she replied with dry captiousness. “You are aware, are you not, that the General is mortgaged to the Marquis, with all his property? Consequently, if the General’s mother does not die, the Frenchman will become the absolute possessor of everything which he now holds only in pledge.”

“Then it is really the case that everything is mortgaged? I have heard rumours to that effect, but was unaware how far they might be true.”

“Yes, they ARE true. What then?”

“Why, it will be a case of ‘Farewell, Mlle. Blanche,’” I remarked; “for in such an event she would never become Madame General. Do you know, I believe the old man is so much in love with her that he will shoot himself if she should throw him over. At his age it is a dangerous thing to fall in love.”

“Yes, something, I believe, WILL happen to him,” assented Polina thoughtfully.

“And what a fine thing it all is!” I continued. “Could anything be more abominable than the way in which she has agreed to marry for money alone? Not one of the decencies has been observed; the whole affair has taken place without the least ceremony. And as for the grandmother, what could be more comical, yet more dastardly, than the sending of telegram after telegram to know if she is dead? What do you think of it, Polina Alexandrovna?”

“Yes, it is very horrible,” she interrupted with a shudder. “Consequently, I am the more surprised that YOU should be so cheerful. What are YOU so pleased about? About the fact that you have gone and lost my money?”

“What? The money that you gave me to lose? I told you I should never win for other people—least of all for you. I obeyed you simply because you ordered me to; but you must not blame me for the result. I warned you that no good would ever come of it. You seem much depressed at having lost your money. Why do you need it so greatly?”

“Why do YOU ask me these questions?”

“Because you promised to explain matters to me. Listen. I am certain that, as soon as ever I ‘begin to play for myself’ (and I still have 120 gulden left), I shall win. You can then take of me what you require.”

She made a contemptuous grimace.

“You must not be angry with me,” I continued, “for making such a proposal. I am so conscious of being only a nonentity in your eyes that you need not mind accepting money from me. A gift from me could not possibly offend you. Moreover, it was I who lost your gulden.”

She glanced at me, but, seeing that I was in an irritable, sarcastic mood, changed the subject.

“My affairs cannot possibly interest you,” she said. Still, if you DO wish to know, I am in debt. I borrowed some money, and must pay it back again. I have a curious, senseless idea that I am bound to win at the gaming-tables. Why I think so I cannot tell, but I do think so, and with some assurance. Perhaps it is because of that assurance that I now find myself without any other resource.”

“Or perhaps it is because it is so NECESSARY for you to win. It is like a drowning man catching at a straw. You yourself will agree that, unless he were drowning he would not mistake a straw for the trunk of a tree.”

Polina looked surprised.

“What?” she said. “Do not you also hope something from it? Did you not tell me again and again, two weeks ago, that you were certain of winning at roulette if you played here? And did you not ask me not to consider you a fool for doing so? Were you joking? You cannot have been, for I remember that you spoke with a gravity which forbade the idea of your jesting.”

“True,” I replied gloomily. “I always felt certain that I should win. Indeed, what you say makes me ask myself—Why have my absurd, senseless losses of today raised a doubt in my mind? Yet I am still positive that, so soon as ever I begin to play for myself, I shall infallibly win.”

“And why are you so certain?”

“To tell the truth, I do not know. I only know that I must win—that it is the one resource I have left. Yes, why do I feel so assured on the point?”

“Perhaps because one cannot help winning if one is fanatically certain of doing so.”

“Yet I dare wager that you do not think me capable of serious feeling in the matter?”

“I do not care whether you are so or not,” answered Polina with calm indifference. “Well, since you ask me, I DO doubt your ability to take anything seriously. You are capable of worrying, but not deeply. You are too ill-regulated and unsettled a person for that. But why do you want money? Not a single one of the reasons which you have given can be looked upon as serious.”

“By the way,” I interrupted, “you say you want to pay off a debt. It must be a large one. Is it to the Frenchman?”

“What do you mean by asking all these questions? You are very clever today. Surely you are not drunk?”

“You know that you and I stand on no ceremony, and that sometimes I put to you very plain questions. I repeat that I am your, slave—and slaves cannot be shamed or offended.”

“You talk like a child. It is always possible to comport oneself with dignity. If one has a quarrel it ought to elevate rather than to degrade one.”

“A maxim straight from the copybook! Suppose I CANNOT comport myself with dignity. By that I mean that, though I am a man of self-respect, I am unable to carry off a situation properly. Do you know the reason? It is because we Russians are too richly and multifariously gifted to be able at once to find the proper mode of expression. It is all a question of mode. Most of us are so bounteously endowed with intellect as to require also a spice of genius to choose the right form of behaviour. And genius is lacking in us for the reason that so little genius at all exists. It belongs only to the French—though a few other Europeans have elaborated their forms so well as to be able to figure with extreme dignity, and yet be wholly undignified persons. That is why, with us, the mode is so all-important. The Frenchman may receive an insult— a real, a venomous insult: yet, he will not so much as frown. But a tweaking of the nose he cannot bear, for the reason that such an act is an infringement of the accepted, of the time-hallowed order of decorum. That is why our good ladies are so fond of Frenchmen—the Frenchman’s manners, they say, are perfect! But in my opinion there is no such thing as a Frenchman’s manners. The Frenchman is only a bird—the coq gaulois. At the same time, as I am not a woman, I do not properly understand the question. Cocks may be excellent birds. If I am wrong you must stop me. You ought to stop and correct me more often when I am speaking to you, for I am too apt to say everything that is in my head.

“You see, I have lost my manners. I agree that I have none, nor yet any dignity. I will tell you why. I set no store upon such things. Everything in me has undergone a cheek. You know the reason. I have not a single human thought in my head. For a long while I have been ignorant of what is going on in the world—here or in Russia. I have been to Dresden, yet am completely in the dark as to what Dresden is like. You know the cause of my obsession. I have no hope now, and am a mere cipher in your eyes; wherefore, I tell you outright that wherever I go I see only you—all the rest is a matter of indifference.

“Why or how I have come to love you I do not know. It may be that you are not altogether fair to look upon. Do you know, I am ignorant even as to what your face is like. In all probability, too, your heart is not comely, and it is possible that your mind is wholly ignoble.”

“And because you do not believe in my nobility of soul you think to purchase me with money?” she said.

“WHEN have I thought to do so?” was my reply.

“You are losing the thread of the argument. If you do not wish to purchase me, at all events you wish to purchase my respect.”

“Not at all. I have told you that I find it difficult to explain myself. You are hard upon me. Do not be angry at my chattering. You know why you ought not to be angry with me—that I am simply an imbecile. However, I do not mind if you ARE angry. Sitting in my room, I need but to think of you, to imagine to myself the rustle of your dress, and at once I fall almost to biting my hands. Why should you be angry with me? Because I call myself your slave? Revel, I pray you, in my slavery—revel in it. Do you know that sometimes I could kill you?—not because I do not love you, or am jealous of you, but, because I feel as though I could simply devour you… You are laughing!”

“No, I am not,” she retorted. “But I order you, nevertheless, to be silent.”

She stopped, well nigh breathless with anger. God knows, she may not have been a beautiful woman, yet I loved to see her come to a halt like this, and was therefore, the more fond of arousing her temper. Perhaps she divined this, and for that very reason gave way to rage. I said as much to her.

“What rubbish!” she cried with a shudder.

“I do not care,” I continued. “Also, do you know that it is not safe for us to take walks together? Often I have a feeling that I should like to strike you, to disfigure you, to strangle you. Are you certain that it will never come to that? You are driving me to frenzy. Am I afraid of a scandal, or of your anger? Why should I fear your anger? I love without hope, and know that hereafter I shall love you a thousand times more. If ever I should kill you I should have to kill myself too. But I shall put off doing so as long as possible, for I wish to continue enjoying the unbearable pain which your coldness gives me. Do you know a very strange thing? It is that, with every day, my love for you increases—though that would seem to be almost an impossibility. Why should I not become a fatalist? Remember how, on the third day that we ascended the Shlangenberg, I was moved to whisper in your ear: ‘Say but the word, and I will leap into the abyss.’ Had you said it, I should have leapt. Do you not believe me?”

“What stupid rubbish!” she cried.

“I care not whether it be wise or stupid,” I cried in return. “I only know that in your presence I must speak, speak, speak. Therefore, I am speaking. I lose all conceit when I am with you, and everything ceases to matter.”

“Why should I have wanted you to leap from the Shlangenberg?” she said drily, and (I think) with wilful offensiveness. “THAT would have been of no use to me.”

“Splendid!” I shouted. “I know well that you must have used the words ‘of no use’ in order to crush me. I can see through you. ‘Of no use,’ did you say? Why, to give pleasure is ALWAYS of use; and, as for barbarous, unlimited power—even if it be only over a fly—why, it is a kind of luxury. Man is a despot by nature, and loves to torture. You, in particular, love to do so.”

I remember that at this moment she looked at me in a peculiar way. The fact is that my face must have been expressing all the maze of senseless, gross sensations which were seething within me. To this day I can remember, word for word, the conversation as I have written it down. My eyes were suffused with blood, and the foam had caked itself on my lips. Also, on my honour I swear that, had she bidden me cast myself from the summit of the Shlangenberg, I should have done it. Yes, had she bidden me in jest, or only in contempt and with a spit in my face, I should have cast myself down.

“Oh no! Why so? I believe you,” she said, but in such a manner—in the manner of which, at times, she was a mistress—and with such a note of disdain and viperish arrogance in her tone, that God knows I could have killed her.

Yes, at that moment she stood in peril. I had not lied to her about that.

“Surely you are not a coward?” suddenly she asked me.

“I do not know,” I replied. “Perhaps I am, but I do not know. I have long given up thinking about such things.”

“If I said to you, ‘Kill that man,’ would you kill him?”


“Whomsoever I wish?”

“The Frenchman?”

“Do not ask me questions; return me answers. I repeat, whomsoever I wish? I desire to see if you were speaking seriously just now.”

She awaited my reply with such gravity and impatience that I found the situation unpleasant.

“Do YOU, rather, tell me,” I said, “what is going on here? Why do you seem half-afraid of me? I can see for myself what is wrong. You are the step-daughter of a ruined and insensate man who is smitten with love for this devil of a Blanche. And there is this Frenchman, too, with his mysterious influence over you. Yet, you actually ask me such a question! If you do not tell me how things stand, I shall have to put in my oar and do something. Are you ashamed to be frank with me? Are you shy of me? “

“I am not going to talk to you on that subject. I have asked you a question, and am waiting for an answer.”

“Well, then—I will kill whomsoever you wish,” I said. “But are you REALLY going to bid me do such deeds?”

“Why should you think that I am going to let you off? I shall bid you do it, or else renounce me. Could you ever do the latter? No, you know that you couldn’t. You would first kill whom I had bidden you, and then kill ME for having dared to send you away!”

Something seemed to strike upon my brain as I heard these words. Of course, at the time I took them half in jest and half as a challenge; yet, she had spoken them with great seriousness. I felt thunderstruck that she should so express herself, that she should assert such a right over me, that she should assume such authority and say outright: “Either you kill whom I bid you, or I will have nothing more to do with you.” Indeed, in what she had said there was something so cynical and unveiled as to pass all bounds. For how could she ever regard me as the same after the killing was done? This was more than slavery and abasement; it was sufficient to bring a man back to his right senses. Yet, despite the outrageous improbability of our conversation, my heart shook within me.

Suddenly, she burst out laughing. We were seated on a bench near the spot where the children were playing—just opposite the point in the alley-way before the Casino where the carriages drew up in order to set down their occupants.

“Do you see that fat Baroness?” she cried. “It is the Baroness Burmergelm. She arrived three days ago. Just look at her husband—that tall, wizened Prussian there, with the stick in his hand. Do you remember how he stared at us the other day? Well, go to the Baroness, take off your hat to her, and say something in French.”


“Because you have sworn that you would leap from the Shlangenberg for my sake, and that you would kill any one whom I might bid you kill. Well, instead of such murders and tragedies, I wish only for a good laugh. Go without answering me, and let me see the Baron give you a sound thrashing with his stick.”

“Then you throw me out a challenge?—you think that I will not do it?”

“Yes, I do challenge you. Go, for such is my will.”

“Then I WILL go, however mad be your fancy. Only, look here: shall you not be doing the General a great disservice, as well as, through him, a great disservice to yourself? It is not about myself I am worrying— it is about you and the General. Why, for a mere fancy, should I go and insult a woman?”

“Ah! Then I can see that you are only a trifler,” she said contemptuously. “Your eyes are swimming with blood—but only because you have drunk a little too much at luncheon. Do I not know that what I have asked you to do is foolish and wrong, and that the General will be angry about it? But I want to have a good laugh, all the same. I want that, and nothing else. Why should you insult a woman, indeed? Well, you will be given a sound thrashing for so doing.”

I turned away, and went silently to do her bidding. Of course the thing was folly, but I could not get out of it. I remember that, as I approached the Baroness, I felt as excited as a schoolboy. I was in a frenzy, as though I were drunk.


Two days have passed since that day of lunacy. What a noise and a fuss and a chattering and an uproar there was! And what a welter of unseemliness and disorder and stupidity and bad manners! And I the cause of it all! Yet part of the scene was also ridiculous—at all events to myself it was so. I am not quite sure what was the matter with me—whether I was merely stupefied or whether I purposely broke loose and ran amok. At times my mind seems all confused; while at other times I seem almost to be back in my childhood, at the school desk, and to have done the deed simply out of mischief.

It all came of Polina—yes, of Polina. But for her, there might never have been a fracas. Or perhaps I did the deed in a fit of despair (though it may be foolish of me to think so)? What there is so attractive about her I cannot think. Yet there IS something attractive about her—something passing fair, it would seem. Others besides myself she has driven to distraction. She is tall and straight, and very slim. Her body looks as though it could be tied into a knot, or bent double, like a cord. The imprint of her foot is long and narrow. It is, a maddening imprint—yes, simply a maddening one! And her hair has a reddish tint about it, and her eyes are like cat’s eyes—though able also to glance with proud, disdainful mien. On the evening of my first arrival, four months ago, I remember that she was sitting and holding an animated conversation with De Griers in the salon. And the way in which she looked at him was such that later, when I retired to my own room upstairs, I kept fancying that she had smitten him in the face—that she had smitten him right on the cheek, so peculiar had been her look as she stood confronting him. Ever since that evening I have loved her.

But to my tale.

I stepped from the path into the carriage-way, and took my stand in the middle of it. There I awaited the Baron and the Baroness. When they were but a few paces distant from me I took off my hat, and bowed.

I remember that the Baroness was clad in a voluminous silk dress, pale grey in colour, and adorned with flounces and a crinoline and train. Also, she was short and inordinately stout, while her gross, flabby chin completely concealed her neck. Her face was purple, and the little eyes in it had an impudent, malicious expression. Yet she walked as though she were conferring a favour upon everybody by so doing. As for the Baron, he was tall, wizened, bony-faced after the German fashion, spectacled, and, apparently, about forty-five years of age. Also, he had legs which seemed to begin almost at his chest—or, rather, at his chin! Yet, for all his air of peacock-like conceit, his clothes sagged a little, and his face wore a sheepish air which might have passed for profundity.

These details I noted within a space of a few seconds.

At first my bow and the fact that I had my hat in my hand barely caught their attention. The Baron only scowled a little, and the Baroness swept straight on.

“Madame la Baronne,” said I, loudly and distinctly—embroidering each word, as it were—“j’ai l’honneur d’etre votre esclave.”

Then I bowed again, put on my hat, and walked past the Baron with a rude smile on my face.

Polina had ordered me merely to take off my hat: the bow and the general effrontery were of my own invention. God knows what instigated me to perpetrate the outrage! In my frenzy I felt as though I were walking on air,

“Hein!” ejaculated—or, rather, growled—the Baron as he turned towards me in angry surprise.

I too turned round, and stood waiting in pseudo-courteous expectation. Yet still I wore on my face an impudent smile as I gazed at him. He seemed to hesitate, and his brows contracted to their utmost limits. Every moment his visage was growing darker. The Baroness also turned in my direction, and gazed at me in wrathful perplexity, while some of the passers-by also began to stare at us, and others of them halted outright.

“Hein!” the Baron vociferated again, with a redoubled growl and a note of growing wrath in his voice.

“Ja wohl!” I replied, still looking him in the eyes.

“Sind sie rasend?” he exclaimed, brandishing his stick, and, apparently, beginning to feel nervous. Perhaps it was my costume which intimidated him, for I was well and fashionably dressed, after the manner of a man who belongs to indisputably good society.

“Ja wo-o-ohl!” cried I again with all my might with a longdrawn rolling of the ” ohl ” sound after the fashion of the Berliners (who constantly use the phrase “Ja wohl!” in conversation, and more or less prolong the syllable “ohl” according as they desire to express different shades of meaning or of mood).

At this the Baron and the Baroness faced sharply about, and almost fled in their alarm. Some of the bystanders gave vent to excited exclamations, and others remained staring at me in astonishment. But I do not remember the details very well.

Wheeling quietly about, I returned in the direction of Polina Alexandrovna. But, when I had got within a hundred paces of her seat, I saw her rise and set out with the children towards the hotel.

At the portico I caught up to her.

“I have perpetrated the—the piece of idiocy,” I said as I came level with her.

“Have you? Then you can take the consequences,” she replied without so much as looking at me. Then she moved towards the staircase.

I spent the rest of the evening walking in the park. Thence I passed into the forest, and walked on until I found myself in a neighbouring principality. At a wayside restaurant I partook of an omelette and some wine, and was charged for the idyllic repast a thaler and a half.

Not until eleven o’clock did I return home—to find a summons awaiting me from the General.

Our party occupied two suites in the hotel; each of which contained two rooms. The first (the larger suite) comprised a salon and a smoking-room, with, adjoining the latter, the General’s study. It was here that he was awaiting me as he stood posed in a majestic attitude beside his writing-table. Lolling on a divan close by was De Griers.

“My good sir,” the General began, “may I ask you what this is that you have gone and done?”

“I should be glad,” I replied, “if we could come straight to the point. Probably you are referring to my encounter of today with a German?”

“With a German? Why, the German was the Baron Burmergelm—a most important personage! I hear that you have been rude both to him and to the Baroness?”

“No, I have not.”

“But I understand that you simply terrified them, my good sir?” shouted the General.

“Not in the least,” I replied. “You must know that when I was in Berlin I frequently used to hear the Berliners repeat, and repellently prolong, a certain phrase—namely, ‘Ja wohl!’; and, happening to meet this couple in the carriage-drive, I found, for some reason or another, that this phrase suddenly recurred to my memory, and exercised a rousing effect upon my spirits. Moreover, on the three previous occasions that I have met the Baroness she has walked towards me as though I were a worm which could easily be crushed with the foot. Not unnaturally, I too possess a measure of self-respect; wherefore, on THIS occasion I took off my hat, and said politely (yes, I assure you it was said politely): ‘Madame, j’ai l’honneur d’etre votre esclave.’ Then the Baron turned round, and said ‘Hein!’; whereupon I felt moved to ejaculate in answer ‘Ja wohl!’ Twice I shouted it at him—the first time in an ordinary tone, and the second time with the greatest prolonging of the words of which I was capable. That is all.”

I must confess that this puerile explanation gave me great pleasure. I felt a strong desire to overlay the incident with an even added measure of grossness; so, the further I proceeded, the more did the gusto of my proceeding increase.

“You are only making fun of me! ” vociferated the General as, turning to the Frenchman, he declared that my bringing about of the incident had been gratuitous. De Griers smiled contemptuously, and shrugged his shoulders.

“Do not think THAT,” I put in. “It was not so at all. I grant you that my behaviour was bad—I fully confess that it was so, and make no secret of the fact. I would even go so far as to grant you that my behaviour might well be called stupid and indecent tomfoolery; but, MORE than that it was not. Also, let me tell you that I am very sorry for my conduct. Yet there is one circumstance which, in my eyes, almost absolves me from regret in the matter. Of late—that is to say, for the last two or three weeks—I have been feeling not at all well. That is to say, I have been in a sick, nervous, irritable, fanciful condition, so that I have periodically lost control over myself. For instance, on more than one occasion I have tried to pick a quarrel even with Monsieur le Marquise here; and, under the circumstances, he had no choice but to answer me. In short, I have recently been showing signs of ill-health. Whether the Baroness Burmergelm will take this circumstance into consideration when I come to beg her pardon (for I do intend to make her amends) I do not know; but I doubt if she will, and the less so since, so far as I know, the circumstance is one which, of late, has begun to be abused in the legal world, in that advocates in criminal cases have taken to justifying their clients on the ground that, at the moment of the crime, they (the clients) were unconscious of what they were doing—that, in short, they were out of health. ‘My client committed the murder—that is true; but he has no recollection of having committed it.’ And doctors actually support these advocates by affirming that there really is such a malady—that there really can arise temporary delusions which make a man remember nothing of a given deed, or only a half or a quarter of it! But the Baron and Baroness are members of an older generation, as well as Prussian Junkers and landowners. To them such a process in the medico-judicial world will be unknown, and therefore, they are the more unlikely to accept any such explanation. What is YOUR opinion about it, General?”

“Enough, sir! ” he thundered with barely restrained fury. “Enough, I say! Once and for all I must endeavour to rid myself of you and your impertinence. To justify yourself in the eyes of the Baron and Baroness will be impossible. Any intercourse with you, even though it be confined to a begging of their pardons, they would look upon as a degradation. I may tell you that, on learning that you formed part of, my household, the Baron approached me in the Casino, and demanded of me additional satisfaction. Do you understand, then, what it is that you have entailed upon me—upon ME, my good sir? You have entailed upon me the fact of my being forced to sue humbly to the Baron, and to give him my word of honour that this very day you shall cease to belong to my establishment!”

“Excuse me, General,” I interrupted, “but did he make an express point of it that I should ‘cease to belong to your establishment,’ as you call it?”

“No; I, of my own initiative, thought that I ought to afford him that satisfaction; and, with it he was satisfied. So we must part, good sir. It is my duty to hand over to you forty gulden, three florins, as per the accompanying statement. Here is the money, and here the account, which you are at liberty to verify. Farewell. From henceforth we are strangers. From you I have never had anything but trouble and unpleasantness. I am about to call the landlord, and explain to him that from tomorrow onwards I shall no longer be responsible for your hotel expenses. Also I have the honour to remain your obedient servant.”

I took the money and the account (which was indicted in pencil), and, bowing low to the General, said to him very gravely:

“The matter cannot end here. I regret very much that you should have been put to unpleasantness at the Baron’s hands; but, the fault (pardon me) is your own. How came you to answer for me to the Baron? And what did you mean by saying that I formed part of your household? I am merely your family tutor—not a son of yours, nor yet your ward, nor a person of any kind for whose acts you need be responsible. I am a judicially competent person, a man of twenty-five years of age, a university graduate, a gentleman, and, until I met yourself, a complete stranger to you. Only my boundless respect for your merits restrains me from demanding satisfaction at your hands, as well as a further explanation as to the reasons which have led you to take it upon yourself to answer for my conduct.”

So struck was he with my words that, spreading out his hands, he turned to the Frenchman, and interpreted to him that I had challenged himself (the General) to a duel. The Frenchman laughed aloud.

“Nor do I intend to let the Baron off,” I continued calmly, but with not a little discomfiture at De Griers’ merriment. “And since you, General, have today been so good as to listen to the Baron’s complaints, and to enter into his concerns—since you have made yourself a participator in the affair—I have the honour to inform you that, tomorrow morning at the latest, I shall, in my own name, demand of the said Baron a formal explanation as to the reasons which have led him to disregard the fact that the matter lies between him and myself alone, and to put a slight upon me by referring it to another person, as though I were unworthy to answer for my own conduct.”

Then there happened what I had foreseen. The General on hearing of this further intended outrage, showed the white feather.

“What? ” he cried. “Do you intend to go on with this damned nonsense? Do you not realise the harm that it is doing me? I beg of you not to laugh at me, sir—not to laugh at me, for we have police authorities here who, out of respect for my rank, and for that of the Baron… In short, sir, I swear to you that I will have you arrested, and marched out of the place, to prevent any further brawling on your part. Do you understand what I say?” He was almost breathless with anger, as well as in a terrible fright.

“General,” I replied with that calmness which he never could abide, “one cannot arrest a man for brawling until he has brawled. I have not so much as begun my explanations to the Baron, and you are altogether ignorant as to the form and time which my intended procedure is likely to assume. I wish but to disabuse the Baron of what is, to me, a shameful supposition—namely, that I am under the guardianship of a person who is qualified to exercise control over my free will. It is vain for you to disturb and alarm yourself.”

“For God’s sake, Alexis Ivanovitch, do put an end to this senseless scheme of yours!” he muttered, but with a sudden change from a truculent tone to one of entreaty as he caught me by the hand. “Do you know what is likely to come of it? Merely further unpleasantness. You will agree with me, I am sure, that at present I ought to move with especial care—yes, with very especial care. You cannot be fully aware of how I am situated. When we leave this place I shall be ready to receive you back into my household; but, for the time being I— Well, I cannot tell you all my reasons.” With that he wound up in a despairing voice: ” O Alexis Ivanovitch, Alexis Ivanovitch!”

I moved towards the door—begging him to be calm, and promising that everything should be done decently and in order; whereafter I departed.

Russians, when abroad, are over-apt to play the poltroon, to watch all their words, and to wonder what people are thinking of their conduct, or whether such and such a thing is ‘comme il faut.’ In short, they are over-apt to cosset themselves, and to lay claim to great importance. Always they prefer the form of behaviour which has once and for all become accepted and established. This they will follow slavishly whether in hotels, on promenades, at meetings, or when on a journey. But the General had avowed to me that, over and above such considerations as these, there were circumstances which compelled him to “move with especial care at present”, and that the fact had actually made him poor-spirited and a coward—it had made him altogether change his tone towards me. This fact I took into my calculations, and duly noted it, for, of course, he MIGHT apply to the authorities tomorrow, and it behoved me to go carefully.

Yet it was not the General but Polina that I wanted to anger. She had treated me with such cruelty, and had got me into such a hole, that I felt a longing to force her to beseech me to stop. Of course, my tomfoolery might compromise her; yet certain other feelings and desires had begun to form themselves in my brain. If I was never to rank in her eyes as anything but a nonentity, it would not greatly matter if I figured as a draggle-tailed cockerel, and the Baron were to give me a good thrashing; but, the fact was that I desired to have the laugh of them all, and to come out myself unscathed. Let people see what they WOULD see. Let Polina, for once, have a good fright, and be forced to whistle me to heel again. But, however much she might whistle, she should see that I was at least no draggle-tailed cockerel!


I have just received a surprising piece of news. I have just met our chambermaid on the stairs, and been informed by her that Maria Philipovna departed today, by the night train, to stay with a cousin at Carlsbad. What can that mean? The maid declares that Madame packed her trunks early in the day. Yet how is it that no one else seems to have been aware of the circumstance? Or is it that I have been the only person to be unaware of it? Also, the maid has just told me that, three days ago, Maria Philipovna had some high words with the General. I understand, then! Probably the words were concerning Mlle. Blanche. Certainly something decisive is approaching.


In the morning I sent for the maitre d’hotel, and explained to him that, in future, my bill was to be rendered to me personally. As a matter of fact, my expenses had never been so large as to alarm me, nor to lead me to quit the hotel; while, moreover, I still had 16o gulden left to me, and—in them—yes, in them, perhaps, riches awaited me. It was a curious fact, that, though I had not yet won anything at play, I nevertheless acted, thought, and felt as though I were sure, before long, to become wealthy— since I could not imagine myself otherwise.

Next, I bethought me, despite the earliness of the hour, of going to see Mr. Astley, who was staying at the Hotel de l’Angleterre (a hostelry at no great distance from our own). But suddenly De Griers entered my room. This had never before happened, for of late that gentleman and I had stood on the most strained and distant of terms—he attempting no concealment of his contempt for me (he even made an express, point of showing it), and I having no reason to desire his company. In short, I detested him. Consequently, his entry at the present moment the more astounded me. At once I divined that something out of the way was on the carpet.

He entered with marked affability, and began by complimenting me on my room. Then, perceiving that I had my hat in my hands, he inquired whither I was going so early; and, no sooner did he hear that I was bound for Mr. Astley’s than he stopped, looked grave, and seemed plunged in thought.

He was a true Frenchman insofar as that, though he could be lively and engaging when it suited him, he became insufferably dull and wearisome as soon as ever the need for being lively and engaging had passed. Seldom is a Frenchman NATURALLY civil: he is civil only as though to order and of set purpose. Also, if he thinks it incumbent upon him to be fanciful, original, and out of the way, his fancy always assumes a foolish, unnatural vein, for the reason that it is compounded of trite, hackneyed forms. In short, the natural Frenchman is a conglomeration of commonplace, petty, everyday positiveness, so that he is the most tedious person in the world.—Indeed, I believe that none but greenhorns and excessively Russian people feel an attraction towards the French; for, to any man of sensibility, such a compendium of outworn forms—a compendium which is built up of drawing-room manners, expansiveness, and gaiety—becomes at once over-noticeable and unbearable.

“I have come to see you on business,” De Griers began in a very off-hand, yet polite, tone; “nor will I seek to conceal from you the fact that I have come in the capacity of an emissary, of an intermediary, from the General. Having small knowledge of the Russian tongue, I lost most of what was said last night; but, the General has now explained matters, and I must confess that—”

“See here, Monsieur de Griers,” I interrupted. “I understand that you have undertaken to act in this affair as an intermediary. Of course I am only ‘un utchitel,’ a tutor, and have never claimed to be an intimate of this household, nor to stand on at all familiar terms with it. Consequently, I do not know the whole of its circumstances. Yet pray explain to me this: have you yourself become one of its members, seeing that you are beginning to take such a part in everything, and are now present as an intermediary?”

The Frenchman seemed not over-pleased at my question. It was one which was too outspoken for his taste—and he had no mind to be frank with me.

“I am connected with the General,” he said drily, “partly through business affairs, and partly through special circumstances. My principal has sent me merely to ask you to forego your intentions of last evening. What you contemplate is, I have no doubt, very clever; yet he has charged me to represent to you that you have not the slightest chance of succeeding in your end, since not only will the Baron refuse to receive you, but also he (the Baron) has at his disposal every possible means for obviating further unpleasantness from you. Surely you can see that yourself? What, then, would be the good of going on with it all? On the other hand, the General promises that at the first favourable opportunity he will receive you back into his household, and, in the meantime, will credit you with your salary—with ‘vos appointements.’ Surely that will suit you, will it not?”

Very quietly I replied that he (the Frenchman) was labouring under a delusion; that perhaps, after all, I should not be expelled from the Baron’s presence, but, on the contrary, be listened to; finally, that I should be glad if Monsieur de Griers would confess that he was now visiting me merely in order to see how far I intended to go in the affair.

“Good heavens!” cried de Griers. “Seeing that the General takes such an interest in the matter, is there anything very unnatural in his desiring also to know your plans? “

Again I began my explanations, but the Frenchman only fidgeted and rolled his head about as he listened with an expression of manifest and unconcealed irony on his face. In short, he adopted a supercilious attitude. For my own part, I endeavoured to pretend that I took the affair very seriously. I declared that, since the Baron had gone and complained of me to the General, as though I were a mere servant of the General’s, he had, in the first place, lost me my post, and, in the second place, treated me like a person to whom, as to one not qualified to answer for himself, it was not even worth while to speak. Naturally, I said, I felt insulted at this. Yet, comprehending as I did, differences of years, of social status, and so forth (here I could scarcely help smiling), I was not anxious to bring about further scenes by going personally to demand or to request satisfaction of the Baron. All that I felt was that I had a right to go in person and beg the Baron’s and the Baroness’s pardon—the more so since, of late, I had been feeling unwell and unstrung, and had been in a fanciful condition. And so forth, and so forth. Yet (I continued) the Baron’s offensive behaviour to me of yesterday (that is to say, the fact of his referring the matter to the General) as well as his insistence that the General should deprive me of my post, had placed me in such a position that I could not well express my regret to him (the Baron) and to his good lady, for the reason that in all probability both he and the Baroness, with the world at large, would imagine that I was doing so merely because I hoped, by my action, to recover my post. Hence, I found myself forced to request the Baron to express to me HIS OWN regrets, as well as to express them in the most unqualified manner—to say, in fact, that he had never had any wish to insult me. After the Baron had done THAT, I should, for my part, at once feel free to express to him, whole-heartedly and without reserve, my own regrets.” In short,” I declared in conclusion, ” my one desire is that the Baron may make it possible for me to adopt the latter course.”

“Oh fie! What refinements and subtleties!” exclaimed De Griers. “Besides, what have you to express regret for? Confess, Monsieur, Monsieur—pardon me, but I have forgotten your name—confess, I say, that all this is merely a plan to annoy the General? Or perhaps, you have some other and special end in view? Eh?”

“In return you must pardon ME, mon cher Marquis, and tell me what you have to do with it.”

“The General—”

“But what of the General? Last night he said that, for some reason or another, it behoved him to ‘move with especial care at present;’ wherefore, he was feeling nervous. But I did not understand the reference.”

“Yes, there DO exist special reasons for his doing so,” assented De Griers in a conciliatory tone, yet with rising anger. “You are acquainted with Mlle. de Cominges, are you not?”

“Mlle. Blanche, you mean?”

“Yes, Mlle. Blanche de Cominges. Doubtless you know also that the General is in love with this young lady, and may even be about to marry her before he leaves here? Imagine, therefore, what any scene or scandal would entail upon him!”

“I cannot see that the marriage scheme need, be affected by scenes or scandals.”

“Mais le Baron est si irascible—un caractere prussien, vous savez! Enfin il fera une querelle d’Allemand.”

“I do not care,” I replied, “seeing that I no longer belong to his household” (of set purpose I was trying to talk as senselessly as possible). “But is it quite settled that Mlle. is to marry the General? What are they waiting for? Why should they conceal such a matter—at all events from ourselves, the General’s own party?”

“I cannot tell you. The marriage is not yet a settled affair, for they are awaiting news from Russia. The General has business transactions to arrange.”

“Ah! Connected, doubtless, with madame his mother?”

De Griers shot at me a glance of hatred.

“To cut things short,” he interrupted, “I have complete confidence in your native politeness, as well as in your tact and good sense. I feel sure that you will do what I suggest, even if it is only for the sake of this family which has received you as a kinsman into its bosom and has always loved and respected you.”

“Be so good as to observe,” I remarked, “that the same family has just EXPELLED me from its bosom. All that you are saying you are saying but for show; but, when people have just said to you, ‘Of course we do not wish to turn you out, yet, for the sake of appearance’s, you must PERMIT yourself to be turned out,’ nothing can matter very much.”

“Very well, then,” he said, in a sterner and more arrogant tone. “Seeing that my solicitations have had no effect upon you, it is my duty to mention that other measures will be taken. There exist here police, you must remember, and this very day they shall send you packing. Que diable! To think of a blanc bec like yourself challenging a person like the Baron to a duel! Do you suppose that you will be ALLOWED to do such things? Just try doing them, and see if any one will be afraid of you! The reason why I have asked you to desist is that I can see that your conduct is causing the General annoyance. Do you believe that the Baron could not tell his lacquey simply to put you out of doors?”

“Nevertheless I should not GO out of doors,” I retorted with absolute calm. “You are labouring under a delusion, Monsieur de Griers. The thing will be done in far better trim than you imagine. I was just about to start for Mr. Astley’s, to ask him to be my intermediary—in other words, my second. He has a strong liking for me, and I do not think that he will refuse. He will go and see the Baron on MY behalf, and the Baron will certainly not decline to receive him. Although I am only a tutor—a kind of subaltern, Mr. Astley is known to all men as the nephew of a real English lord, the Lord Piebroch, as well as a lord in his own right. Yes, you may be pretty sure that the Baron will be civil to Mr. Astley, and listen to him. Or, should he decline to do so, Mr. Astley will take the refusal as a personal affront to himself (for you know how persistent the English are?) and thereupon introduce to the Baron a friend of his own (and he has many friends in a good position). That being so, picture to yourself the issue of the affair—an affair which will not quite end as you think it will.”

This caused the Frenchman to bethink him of playing the coward. “Really things may be as this fellow says,” he evidently thought. “Really he MIGHT be able to engineer another scene.”

“Once more I beg of you to let the matter drop,” he continued in a tone that was now entirely conciliatory. “One would think that it actually PLEASED you to have scenes! Indeed, it is a brawl rather than genuine satisfaction that you are seeking. I have said that the affair may prove to be diverting, and even clever, and that possibly you may attain something by it; yet none the less I tell you” (he said this only because he saw me rise and reach for my hat) “that I have come hither also to hand you these few words from a certain person. Read them, please, for I must take her back an answer.”

So saying, he took from his pocket a small, compact, wafer-sealed note, and handed it to me. In Polina’s handwriting I read:

“I hear that you are thinking of going on with this affair. You have lost your temper now, and are beginning to play the fool! Certain circumstances, however, I may explain to you later. Pray cease from your folly, and put a check upon yourself. For folly it all is. I have need of you, and, moreover, you have promised to obey me. Remember the Shlangenberg. I ask you to be obedient. If necessary, I shall even BID you be obedient.—Your own POLINA.

“P.S.—If so be that you still bear a grudge against me for what happened last night, pray forgive me.”

Everything, to my eyes, seemed to change as I read these words. My lips grew pale, and I began to tremble. Meanwhile, the cursed Frenchman was eyeing me discreetly and askance, as though he wished to avoid witnessing my confusion. It would have been better if he had laughed outright.

“Very well,” I said, “you can tell Mlle. not to disturb herself. But,” I added sharply, “I would also ask you why you have been so long in handing me this note? Instead of chattering about trifles, you ought to have delivered me the missive at once—if you have really come commissioned as you say.”

“Well, pardon some natural haste on my part, for the situation is so strange. I wished first to gain some personal knowledge of your intentions; and, moreover, I did not know the contents of the note, and thought that it could be given you at any time.”

“I understand,” I replied. “So you were ordered to hand me the note only in the last resort, and if you could not otherwise appease me? Is it not so? Speak out, Monsieur de Griers.”

“Perhaps,” said he, assuming a look of great forbearance, but gazing at me in a meaning way.

I reached for my hat; whereupon he nodded, and went out. Yet on his lips I fancied that I could see a mocking smile. How could it have been otherwise?

“You and I are to have a reckoning later, Master Frenchman,” I muttered as I descended the stairs. “Yes, we will measure our strength together.” Yet my thoughts were all in confusion, for again something seemed to have struck me dizzy. Presently the air revived me a little, and, a couple of minutes later, my brain had sufficiently cleared to enable two ideas in particular to stand out in it. Firstly, I asked myself, which of the absurd, boyish, and extravagant threats which I had uttered at random last night had made everybody so alarmed? Secondly, what was the influence which this Frenchman appeared to exercise over Polina? He had but to give the word, and at once she did as he desired—at once she wrote me a note to beg of me to forbear! Of course, the relations between the pair had, from the first, been a riddle to me—they had been so ever since I had first made their acquaintance. But of late I had remarked in her a strong aversion for, even a contempt for—him, while, for his part, he had scarcely even looked at her, but had behaved towards her always in the most churlish fashion. Yes, I had noted that. Also, Polina herself had mentioned to me her dislike for him, and delivered herself of some remarkable confessions on the subject. Hence, he must have got her into his power somehow—somehow he must be holding her as in a vice.


All at once, on the Promenade, as it was called—that is to say, in the Chestnut Avenue—I came face to face with my Englishman.

“I was just coming to see you,” he said; “and you appear to be out on a similar errand. So you have parted with your employers?”

“How do you know that?” I asked in astonishment. “Is EVERY ONE aware of the fact? “

“By no means. Not every one would consider such a fact to be of moment. Indeed, I have never heard any one speak of it.”

“Then how come you to know it?”

“Because I have had occasion to do so. Whither are you bound? I like you, and was therefore coming to pay you a visit.”

“What a splendid fellow you are, Mr. Astley!” I cried, though still wondering how he had come by his knowledge. “And since I have not yet had my coffee, and you have, in all probability, scarcely tasted yours, let us adjourn to the Casino Cafe, where we can sit and smoke and have a talk.”

The cafe in question was only a hundred paces away; so, when coffee had been brought, we seated ourselves, and I lit a cigarette. Astley was no smoker, but, taking a seat by my side, he prepared himself to listen.

“I do not intend to go away,” was my first remark. “I intend, on the contrary, to remain here.”

“That I never doubted,” he answered good-humouredly.

It is a curious fact that, on my way to see him, I had never even thought of telling him of my love for Polina. In fact, I had purposely meant to avoid any mention of the subject. Nor, during our stay in the place, had I ever made aught but the scantiest reference to it. You see, not only was Astley a man of great reserve, but also from the first I had perceived that Polina had made a great impression upon him, although he never spoke of her. But now, strangely enough, he had no sooner seated himself and bent his steely gaze upon me, than, for some reason or another, I felt moved to tell him everything—to speak to him of my love in all its phases. For an hour and a half did I discourse on the subject, and found it a pleasure to do so, even though this was the first occasion on which I had referred to the matter. Indeed, when, at certain moments, I perceived that my more ardent passages confused him, I purposely increased my ardour of narration. Yet one thing I regret: and that is that I made references to the Frenchman which were a little over-personal.

Mr. Astley sat without moving as he listened to me. Not a word nor a sound of any kind did he utter as he stared into my eyes. Suddenly, however, on my mentioning the Frenchman, he interrupted me, and inquired sternly whether I did right to speak of an extraneous matter (he had always been a strange man in his mode of propounding questions).

“No, I fear not,” I replied.

“And concerning this Marquis and Mlle. Polina you know nothing beyond surmise?”

Again I was surprised that such a categorical question should come from such a reserved individual.

“No, I know nothing FOR CERTAIN about them” was my reply. “No—nothing.”

“Then you have done very wrong to speak of them to me, or even to imagine things about them.”

“Quite so, quite so,” I interrupted in some astonishment. “I admit that. Yet that is not the question.” Whereupon I related to him in detail the incident of two days ago. I spoke of Polina’s outburst, of my encounter with the Baron, of my dismissal, of the General’s extraordinary pusillanimity, and of the call which De Griers had that morning paid me. In conclusion, I showed Astley the note which I had lately received.

“What do you make of it?” I asked. “When I met you I was just coming to ask you your opinion. For myself, I could have killed this Frenchman, and am not sure that I shall not do so even yet.”

“I feel the same about it,” said Mr. Astley. “As for Mlle. Polina—well, you yourself know that, if necessity drives, one enters into relation with people whom one simply detests. Even between this couple there may be something which, though unknown to you, depends upon extraneous circumstances. For, my own part, I think that you may reassure yourself—or at all events partially. And as for Mlle. Polina’s proceedings of two days ago, they were, of course, strange; not because she can have meant to get rid of you, or to earn for you a thrashing from the Baron’s cudgel (which for some curious reason, he did not use, although he had it ready in his hands), but because such proceedings on the part of such—well, of such a refined lady as Mlle. Polina are, to say the least of it, unbecoming. But she cannot have guessed that you would carry out her absurd wish to the letter?”

“Do you know what?” suddenly I cried as I fixed Mr. Astley with my gaze. “I believe that you have already heard the story from some one—very possibly from Mlle. Polina herself?”

In return he gave me an astonished stare.

“Your eyes look very fiery,” he said with a return of his former calm, “and in them I can read suspicion. Now, you have no right whatever to be suspicious. It is not a right which I can for a moment recognise, and I absolutely refuse to answer your questions.”

“Enough! You need say no more,” I cried with a strange emotion at my heart, yet not altogether understanding what had aroused that emotion in my breast. Indeed, when, where, and how could Polina have chosen Astley to be one of her confidants? Of late I had come rather to overlook him in this connection, even though Polina had always been a riddle to me—so much so that now, when I had just permitted myself to tell my friend of my infatuation in all its aspects, I had found myself struck, during the very telling, with the fact that in my relations with her I could specify nothing that was explicit, nothing that was positive. On the contrary, my relations had been purely fantastic, strange, and unreal; they had been unlike anything else that I could think of.

“Very well, very well,” I replied with a warmth equal to Astley’s own. “Then I stand confounded, and have no further opinions to offer. But you are a good fellow, and I am glad to know what you think about it all, even though I do not need your advice.”

Then, after a pause, I resumed:

“For instance, what reason should you assign for the General taking fright in this way? Why should my stupid clowning have led the world to elevate it into a serious incident? Even De Griers has found it necessary to put in his oar (and he only interferes on the most important occasions), and to visit me, and to address to me the most earnest supplications. Yes, HE, De Griers, has actually been playing the suppliant to ME! And, mark you, although he came to me as early as nine o’clock, he had ready-prepared in his hand Mlle. Polina’s note. When, I would ask, was that note written? Mlle. Polina must have been aroused from sleep for the express purpose of writing it. At all events the circumstance shows that she is an absolute slave to the Frenchman, since she actually begs my pardon in the note—actually begs my pardon! Yet what is her personal concern in the matter? Why is she interested in it at all? Why, too, is the whole party so afraid of this precious Baron? And what sort of a business do you call it for the General to be going to marry Mlle. Blanche de Cominges? He told me last night that, because of the circumstance, he must ‘move with especial care at present.’ What is your opinion of it all? Your look convinces me that you know more about it than I do.”

Mr. Astley smiled and nodded.

“Yes, I think I DO know more about it than you do,” he assented. “The affair centres around this Mlle. Blanche. Of that I feel certain.”

“And what of Mlle. Blanche?” I cried impatiently (for in me there had dawned a sudden hope that this would enable me to discover something about Polina).

“Well, my belief is that at the present moment Mlle. Blanche has, in very truth, a special reason for wishing to avoid any trouble with the Baron and the Baroness. It might lead not only to some unpleasantness, but even to a scandal.”

“Oh, oh! “

“Also I may tell you that Mlle. Blanche has been in Roulettenberg before, for she was staying here three seasons ago. I myself was in the place at the time, and in those days Mlle. Blanche was not known as Mlle. de Cominges, nor was her mother, the Widow de Cominges, even in existence. In any case no one ever mentioned the latter. De Griers, too, had not materialised, and I am convinced that not only do the parties stand in no relation to one another, but also they have not long enjoyed one another’s acquaintance. Likewise, the Marquisate de Griers is of recent creation. Of that I have reason to be sure, owing to a certain circumstance. Even the name De Griers itself may be taken to be a new invention, seeing that I have a friend who once met the said ‘Marquis’ under a different name altogether.”

“Yet he possesses a good circle of friends?”

“Possibly. Mlle. Blanche also may possess that. Yet it is not three years since she received from the local police, at the instance of the Baroness, an invitation to leave the town. And she left it.”

“But why?”

“Well, I must tell you that she first appeared here in company with an Italian—a prince of some sort, a man who bore an historic name (Barberini or something of the kind). The fellow was simply a mass of rings and diamonds — real diamonds, too — and the couple used to drive out in a marvellous carriage. At first Mlle. Blanche played ‘trente et quarante’ with fair success, but, later, her luck took a marked change for the worse. I distinctly remember that in a single evening she lost an enormous sum. But worse was to ensue, for one fine morning her prince disappeared—horses, carriage, and all. Also, the hotel bill which he left unpaid was enormous. Upon this Mlle. Zelma (the name which she assumed after figuring as Madame Barberini) was in despair. She shrieked and howled all over the hotel, and even tore her clothes in her frenzy. In the hotel there was staying also a Polish count (you must know that ALL travelling Poles are counts!), and the spectacle of Mlle. Zelma tearing her clothes and, catlike, scratching her face with her beautiful, scented nails produced upon him a strong impression. So the pair had a talk together, and, by luncheon time, she was consoled. Indeed, that evening the couple entered the Casino arm-in-arm — Mlle. Zelma laughing loudly, according to her custom, and showing even more expansiveness in her manners than she had before shown. For instance, she thrust her way into the file of women roulette-players in the exact fashion of those ladies who, to clear a space for themselves at the tables, push their fellow-players roughly aside. Doubtless you have noticed them?”

“Yes, certainly.”

“Well, they are not worth noticing. To the annoyance of the decent public they are allowed to remain here—at all events such of them as daily change 4000 franc notes at the tables (though, as soon as ever these women cease to do so, they receive an invitation to depart). However, Mlle. Zelma continued to change notes of this kind, but her play grew more and more unsuccessful, despite the fact that such ladies’ luck is frequently good, for they have a surprising amount of cash at their disposal. Suddenly, the Count too disappeared, even as the Prince had done, and that same evening Mlle. Zelma was forced to appear in the Casino alone. On this occasion no one offered her a greeting. Two days later she had come to the end of her resources; whereupon, after staking and losing her last louis d’or she chanced to look around her, and saw standing by her side the Baron Burmergelm, who had been eyeing her with fixed disapproval. To his distaste, however, Mlle. paid no attention, but, turning to him with her well-known smile, requested him to stake, on her behalf, ten louis on the red. Later that evening a complaint from the Baroness led the authorities to request Mlle. not to re-enter the Casino. If you feel in any way surprised that I should know these petty and unedifying details, the reason is that I had them from a relative of mine who, later that evening, drove Mlle. Zelma in his carriage from Roulettenberg to Spa. Now, mark you, Mlle. wants to become Madame General, in order that, in future, she may be spared the receipt of such invitations from Casino authorities as she received three years ago. At present she is not playing; but that is only because, according to the signs, she is lending money to other players. Yes, that is a much more paying game. I even suspect that the unfortunate General is himself in her debt, as well as, perhaps, also De Griers. Or, it may be that the latter has entered into a partnership with her. Consequently you yourself will see that, until the marriage shall have been consummated, Mlle. would scarcely like to have the attention of the Baron and the Baroness drawn to herself. In short, to any one in her position, a scandal would be most detrimental. You form a member of the menage of these people; wherefore, any act of yours might cause such a scandal—and the more so since daily she appears in public arm in arm with the General or with Mlle. Polina. NOW do you understand?”

“No, I do not!” I shouted as I banged my fist down upon the table—banged it with such violence that a frightened waiter came running towards us. “Tell me, Mr. Astley, why, if you knew this history all along, and, consequently, always knew who this Mlle. Blanche is, you never warned either myself or the General, nor, most of all, Mlle. Polina” (who is accustomed to appear in the Casino — in public everywhere with Mlle. Blanche).” How could you do it?”

“It would have done no good to warn you,” he replied quietly, “for the reason that you could have effected nothing. Against what was I to warn you? As likely as not, the General knows more about Mlle. Blanche even than I do; yet the unhappy man still walks about with her and Mlle. Polina. Only yesterday I saw this Frenchwoman riding, splendidly mounted, with De Griers, while the General was careering in their wake on a roan horse. He had said, that morning, that his legs were hurting him, yet his riding-seat was easy enough. As he passed I looked at him, and the thought occurred to me that he was a man lost for ever. However, it is no affair of mine, for I have only recently had the happiness to make Mlle. Polina’s acquaintance. Also”—he added this as an afterthought—“I have already told you that I do not recognise your right to ask me certain questions, however sincere be my liking for you.”

“Enough,” I said, rising. “To me it is as clear as day that Mlle. Polina knows all about this Mlle. Blanche, but cannot bring herself to part with her Frenchman; wherefore, she consents also to be seen in public with Mlle. Blanche. You may be sure that nothing else would ever have induced her either to walk about with this Frenchwoman or to send me a note not to touch the Baron. Yes, it is THERE that the influence lies before which everything in the world must bow! Yet she herself it was who launched me at the Baron! The devil take it, but I was left no choice in the matter.”

“You forget, in the first place, that this Mlle. de Cominges is the General’s inamorata, and, in the second place, that Mlle. Polina, the General’s step-daughter, has a younger brother and sister who, though they are the General’s own children, are completely neglected by this madman, and robbed as well.”

“Yes, yes; that is so. For me to go and desert the children now would mean their total abandonment; whereas, if I remain, I should be able to defend their interests, and, perhaps, to save a moiety of their property. Yes, yes; that is quite true. And yet, and yet—Oh, I can well understand why they are all so interested in the General’s mother!”

“In whom? ” asked Mr. Astley.

“In the old woman of Moscow who declines to die, yet concerning whom they are for ever expecting telegrams to notify the fact of her death.”

“Ah, then of course their interests centre around her. It is a question of succession. Let that but be settled, and the General will marry, Mlle. Polina will be set free, and De Griers—”

“Yes, and De Griers?”

“Will be repaid his money, which is what he is now waiting for.”

“What? You think that he is waiting for that?”

“I know of nothing else,” asserted Mr. Astley doggedly.

“But, I do, I do!” I shouted in my fury. “He is waiting also for the old woman’s will, for the reason that it awards Mlle. Polina a dowry. As soon as ever the money is received, she will throw herself upon the Frenchman’s neck. All women are like that. Even the proudest of them become abject slaves where marriage is concerned. What Polina is good for is to fall head over ears in love. That is MY opinion. Look at her—especially when she is sitting alone, and plunged in thought. All this was pre-ordained and foretold, and is accursed. Polina could perpetrate any mad act. She—she—But who called me by name?” I broke off. “Who is shouting for me? I heard some one calling in Russian, ‘Alexis Ivanovitch!’ It was a woman’s voice. Listen!”

At the moment, we were approaching my hotel. We had left the cafe long ago, without even noticing that we had done so.

“Yes, I DID hear a woman’s voice calling, but whose I do not know. The someone was calling you in Russian. Ah! NOW I can see whence the cries come. They come from that lady there—the one who is sitting on the settee, the one who has just been escorted to the verandah by a crowd of lacqueys. Behind her see that pile of luggage! She must have arrived by train.”

“But why should she be calling ME? Hear her calling again! See! She is beckoning to us!”

“Yes, so she is,” assented Mr. Astley.

“Alexis Ivanovitch, Alexis Ivanovitch! Good heavens, what a stupid fellow!” came in a despairing wail from the verandah.

We had almost reached the portico, and I was just setting foot upon the space before it, when my hands fell to my sides in limp astonishment, and my feet glued themselves to the pavement!


For on the topmost tier of the hotel verandah, after being carried up the steps in an armchair amid a bevy of footmen, maid-servants, and other menials of the hotel, headed by the landlord (that functionary had actually run out to meet a visitor who arrived with so much stir and din, attended by her own retinue, and accompanied by so great a pile of trunks and portmanteaux)—on the topmost tier of the verandah, I say, there was sitting—THE GRANDMOTHER! Yes, it was she—rich, and imposing, and seventy-five years of age—Antonida Vassilievna Tarassevitcha, landowner and grande dame of Moscow—the “La Baboulenka” who had caused so many telegrams to be sent off and received—who had been dying, yet not dying—who had, in her own person, descended upon us even as snow might fall from the clouds! Though unable to walk, she had arrived borne aloft in an armchair (her mode of conveyance for the last five years), as brisk, aggressive, self-satisfied, bolt-upright, loudly imperious, and generally abusive as ever. In fact, she looked exactly as she had on the only two occasions when I had seen her since my appointment to the General’s household. Naturally enough, I stood petrified with astonishment. She had sighted me a hundred paces off! Even while she was being carried along in her chair she had recognised me, and called me by name and surname (which, as usual, after hearing once, she had remembered ever afterwards).

“And this is the woman whom they had thought to see in her grave after making her will!” I thought to myself. “Yet she will outlive us, and every one else in the hotel. Good Lord! what is going to become of us now? What on earth is to happen to the General? She will turn the place upside down!”

“My good sir,” the old woman continued in a stentorian voice, “what are you standing THERE for, with your eyes almost falling out of your head? Cannot you come and say how-do-you-do? Are you too proud to shake hands? Or do you not recognise me? Here, Potapitch!” she cried to an old servant who, dressed in a frock coat and white waistcoat, had a bald, red head (he was the chamberlain who always accompanied her on her journeys). “Just think! Alexis Ivanovitch does not recognise me! They have buried me for good and all! Yes, and after sending hosts of telegrams to know if I were dead or not! Yes, yes, I have heard the whole story. I am very much alive, though, as you may see.”

“Pardon me, Antonida Vassilievna,” I replied good humouredly as I recovered my presence of mind. “I have no reason to wish you ill. I am merely rather astonished to see you. Why should I not be so, seeing how unexpected—”

“WHY should you be astonished? I just got into my chair, and came. Things are quiet enough in the train, for there is no one there to chatter. Have you been out for a walk?”

“Yes. I have just been to the Casino.”

“Oh? Well, it is quite nice here,” she went on as she looked about her. “The place seems comfortable, and all the trees are out. I like it very well. Are your people at home? Is the General, for instance, indoors?”

“Yes; and probably all of them.”

“Do they observe the convenances, and keep up appearances? Such things always give one tone. I have heard that they are keeping a carriage, even as Russian gentlefolks ought to do. When abroad, our Russian people always cut a dash. Is Prascovia here too ?”

“Yes. Polina Alexandrovna is here.”

“And the Frenchwoman? However, I will go and look for them myself. Tell me the nearest way to their rooms. Do you like being here?”

“Yes, I thank you, Antonida Vassilievna.”

“And you, Potapitch, you go and tell that fool of a landlord to reserve me a suitable suite of rooms. They must be handsomely decorated, and not too high up. Have my luggage taken up to them. But what are you tumbling over yourselves for? Why are you all tearing about? What scullions these fellows are!—Who is that with you?” she added to myself.

“A Mr. Astley,” I replied.

“And who is Mr. Astley?”

“A fellow-traveller, and my very good friend, as well as an acquaintance of the General’s.”

“Oh, an Englishman? Then that is why he stared at me without even opening his lips. However, I like Englishmen. Now, take me upstairs, direct to their rooms. Where are they lodging?”

Madame was lifted up in her chair by the lacqueys, and I preceded her up the grand staircase. Our progress was exceedingly effective, for everyone whom we met stopped to stare at the cortege. It happened that the hotel had the reputation of being the best, the most expensive, and the most aristocratic in all the spa, and at every turn on the staircase or in the corridors we encountered fine ladies and important-looking Englishmen—more than one of whom hastened downstairs to inquire of the awestruck landlord who the newcomer was. To all such questions he returned the same answer—namely, that the old lady was an influential foreigner, a Russian, a Countess, and a grande dame, and that she had taken the suite which, during the previous week, had been tenanted by the Grande Duchesse de N.

Meanwhile the cause of the sensation—the Grandmother—was being borne aloft in her armchair. Every person whom she met she scanned with an inquisitive eye, after first of all interrogating me about him or her at the top of her voice. She was stout of figure, and, though she could not leave her chair, one felt, the moment that one first looked at her, that she was also tall of stature. Her back was as straight as a board, and never did she lean back in her seat. Also, her large grey head, with its keen, rugged features, remained always erect as she glanced about her in an imperious, challenging sort of way, with looks and gestures that clearly were unstudied. Though she had reached her seventy-sixth year, her face was still fresh, and her teeth had not decayed. Lastly, she was dressed in a black silk gown and white mobcap.

“She interests me tremendously,” whispered Mr. Astley as, still smoking, he walked by my side. Meanwhile I was reflecting that probably the old lady knew all about the telegrams, and even about De Griers, though little or nothing about Mlle. Blanche. I said as much to Mr. Astley.

But what a frail creature is man! No sooner was my first surprise abated than I found myself rejoicing in the shock which we were about to administer to the General. So much did the thought inspire me that I marched ahead in the gayest of fashions.

Our party was lodging on the third floor. Without knocking at the door, or in any way announcing our presence, I threw open the portals, and the Grandmother was borne through them in triumph. As though of set purpose, the whole party chanced at that moment to be assembled in the General’s study. The time was eleven o’clock, and it seemed that an outing of some sort (at which a portion of the party were to drive in carriages, and others to ride on horseback, accompanied by one or two extraneous acquaintances) was being planned. The General was present, and also Polina, the children, the latter’s nurses, De Griers, Mlle. Blanche (attired in a riding-habit), her mother, the young Prince, and a learned German whom I beheld for the first time. Into the midst of this assembly the lacqueys conveyed Madame in her chair, and set her down within three paces of the General!

Good heavens! Never shall I forget the spectacle which ensued! Just before our entry, the General had been holding forth to the company, with De Griers in support of him. I may also mention that, for the last two or three days, Mlle. Blanche and De Griers had been making a great deal of the young Prince, under the very nose of the poor General. In short, the company, though decorous and conventional, was in a gay, familiar mood. But no sooner did the Grandmother appear than the General stopped dead in the middle of a word, and, with jaw dropping, stared hard at the old lady—his eyes almost starting out of his head, and his expression as spellbound as though he had just seen a basilisk. In return, the Grandmother stared at him silently and without moving—though with a look of mingled challenge, triumph, and ridicule in her eyes. For ten seconds did the pair remain thus eyeing one another, amid the profound silence of the company; and even De Griers sat petrified—an extraordinary look of uneasiness dawning on his face. As for Mlle. Blanche, she too stared wildly at the Grandmother, with eyebrows raised and her lips parted— while the Prince and the German savant contemplated the tableau in profound amazement. Only Polina looked anything but perplexed or surprised. Presently, however, she too turned as white as a sheet, and then reddened to her temples. Truly the Grandmother’s arrival seemed to be a catastrophe for everybody! For my own part, I stood looking from the Grandmother to the company, and back again, while Mr. Astley, as usual, remained in the background, and gazed calmly and decorously at the scene.

“Well, here I am—and instead of a telegram, too!” the Grandmother at last ejaculated, to dissipate the silence. “What? You were not expecting me?”

“Antonida Vassilievna! O my dearest mother! But how on earth did you, did you—?” The mutterings of the unhappy General died away.

I verily believe that if the Grandmother had held her tongue a few seconds longer she would have had a stroke.

“How on earth did I WHAT?” she exclaimed. “Why, I just got into the train and came here. What else is the railway meant for? But you thought that I had turned up my toes and left my property to the lot of you. Oh, I know ALL about the telegrams which you have been dispatching. They must have cost you a pretty sum, I should think, for telegrams are not sent from abroad for nothing. Well, I picked up my heels, and came here. Who is this Frenchman? Monsieur de Griers, I suppose?”

“Oui, madame,” assented De Griers. “Et, croyez, je suis si enchante! Votre sante—c’est un miracle vous voir ici. Une surprise charmante!”

“Just so. ‘Charmante!’ I happen to know you as a mountebank, and therefore trust you no more than THIS.” She indicated her little finger. “And who is THAT?” she went on, turning towards Mlle. Blanche. Evidently the Frenchwoman looked so becoming in her riding-habit, with her whip in her hand, that she had made an impression upon the old lady. “Who is that woman there?”

“Mlle. de Cominges,” I said. “And this is her mother, Madame de Cominges. They also are staying in the hotel.”

“Is the daughter married?” asked the old lady, without the least semblance of ceremony.

“No,” I replied as respectfully as possible, but under my breath.

“Is she good company?”

I failed to understand the question.

“I mean, is she or is she not a bore? Can she speak Russian? When this De Griers was in Moscow he soon learnt to make himself understood.”

I explained to the old lady that Mlle. Blanche had never visited Russia.

“Bonjour, then,” said Madame, with sudden brusquerie.

“Bonjour, madame,” replied Mlle. Blanche with an elegant, ceremonious bow as, under cover of an unwonted modesty, she endeavoured to express, both in face and figure, her extreme surprise at such strange behaviour on the part of the Grandmother.

“How the woman sticks out her eyes at me! How she mows and minces!” was the Grandmother’s comment. Then she turned suddenly to the General, and continued: “I have taken up my abode here, so am going to be your next-door neighbour. Are you glad to hear that, or are you not?”

“My dear mother, believe me when I say that I am. sincerely delighted,” returned the General, who had now, to a certain extent, recovered his senses; and inasmuch as, when occasion arose, he could speak with fluency, gravity, and a certain effect, he set himself to be expansive in his remarks, and went on: “We have been so dismayed and upset by the news of your indisposition! We had received such hopeless telegrams about you! Then suddenly—”

“Fibs, fibs!” interrupted the Grandmother.

“How on earth, too, did you come to decide upon the journey?” continued the General, with raised voice as he hurried to overlook the old lady’s last remark. “Surely, at your age, and in your present state of health, the thing is so unexpected that our surprise is at least intelligible. However, I am glad to see you (as indeed, are we all”—he said this with a dignified, yet conciliatory, smile), “and will use my best endeavours to render your stay here as pleasant as possible.”

“Enough! All this is empty chatter. You are talking the usual nonsense. I shall know quite well how to spend my time. How did I come to undertake the journey, you ask? Well, is there anything so very surprising about it? It was done quite simply. What is every one going into ecstasies about?—How do you do, Prascovia? What are YOU doing here?”

“And how are YOU, Grandmother?” replied Polina, as she approached the old lady. “Were you long on the journey?”.

“The most sensible question that I have yet been asked! Well, you shall hear for yourself how it all happened. I lay and lay, and was doctored and doctored,; until at last I drove the physicians from me, and called in an apothecary from Nicolai who had cured an old woman of a malady similar to my own—cured her merely with a little hayseed. Well, he did me a great deal of good, for on the third day I broke into a sweat, and was able to leave my bed. Then my German doctors held another consultation, put on their spectacles, and told me that if I would go abroad, and take a course of the waters, the indisposition would finally pass away. ‘Why should it not?’ I thought to myself. So I had got things ready, and on the following day, a Friday, set out for here. I occupied a special compartment in the train, and where ever I had to change I found at the station bearers who were ready to carry me for a few coppers. You have nice quarters here,” she went on as she glanced around the room. ” But where on earth did you get the money for them, my good sir? I thought that everything of yours had been mortgaged? This Frenchman alone must be your creditor for a good deal. Oh, I know all about it, all about it.”

“I-I am surprised at you, my dearest mother,” said the General in some confusion. “I-I am greatly surprised. But I do not need any extraneous control of my finances. Moreover, my expenses do not exceed my income, and we—”

“They do not exceed it? Fie! Why, you are robbing your children of their last kopeck—you, their guardian!”

“After this,” said the General, completely taken aback, “—after what you have just said, I do not know whether—”

“You do not know what? By heavens, are you never going to drop that roulette of yours? Are you going to whistle all your property away?”

This made such an impression upon the General that he almost choked with fury.

“Roulette, indeed? I play roulette? Really, in view of my position— Recollect what you are saying, my dearest mother. You must still be unwell.”

“Rubbish, rubbish!” she retorted. “The truth is that you CANNOT be got away from that roulette. You are simply telling lies. This very day I mean to go and see for myself what roulette is like. Prascovia, tell me what there is to be seen here; and do you, Alexis Ivanovitch, show me everything; and do you, Potapitch, make me a list of excursions. What IS there to be seen?” again she inquired of Polina.

“There is a ruined castle, and the Shlangenberg.”

“The Shlangenberg? What is it? A forest?”

“No, a mountain on the summit of which there is a place fenced off. From it you can get a most beautiful view.”

“Could a chair be carried up that mountain of yours?”

“Doubtless we could find bearers for the purpose,” I interposed.

At this moment Theodosia, the nursemaid, approached the old lady with the General’s children.

“No, I DON’T want to see them,” said the Grandmother. “I hate kissing children, for their noses are always wet. How are you getting on, Theodosia?”

“I am very well, thank you, Madame,” replied the nursemaid. “And how is your ladyship? We have been feeling so anxious about you!”

“Yes, I know, you simple soul—But who are those other guests?” the old lady continued, turning again to Polina. “For instance, who is that old rascal in the spectacles?”

“Prince Nilski, Grandmamma,” whispered Polina.

“Oh, a Russian? Why, I had no idea that he could understand me! Surely he did not hear what I said? As for Mr. Astley, I have seen him already, and I see that he is here again. How do you do?” she added to the gentleman in question.

Mr. Astley bowed in silence

“Have you NOTHING to say to me?” the old lady went on. “Say something, for goodness’ sake! Translate to him, Polina.”

Polina did so.

“I have only to say,” replied Mr. Astley gravely, but also with alacrity, “that I am indeed glad to see you in such good health.” This was interpreted to the Grandmother, and she seemed much gratified.

“How well English people know how to answer one!” she remarked. “That is why I like them so much better than French. Come here,” she added to Mr. Astley. “I will try not to bore you too much. Polina, translate to him that I am staying in rooms on a lower floor. Yes, on a lower floor,” she repeated to Astley, pointing downwards with her finger.

Astley looked pleased at receiving the invitation.

Next, the old lady scanned Polina, from head to foot with minute attention.

“I could almost have liked you, Prascovia,” suddenly she remarked, “for you are a nice girl—the best of the lot. You have some character about you. I too have character. Turn round. Surely that is not false hair that you are wearing?”

“No, Grandmamma. It is my own.”

“Well, well. I do not like the stupid fashions of today. You are very good looking. I should have fallen in love with you if I had been a man. Why do you not get married? It is time now that I was going. I want to walk, yet I always have to ride. Are you still in a bad temper?” she added to the General.

“No, indeed,” rejoined the now mollified General.

“I quite understand that at your time of life—”

“Cette vieille est tombee en enfance,” De Griers whispered to me.

“But I want to look round a little,” the old lady added to the General. Will you lend me Alexis Ivanovitch for the purpose?

“As much as you like. But I myself—yes, and Polina and Monsieur de Griers too—we all of us hope to have the pleasure of escorting you.”

“Mais, madame, cela sera un plaisir,” De Griers commented with a bewitching smile.

“‘Plaisir’ indeed! Why, I look upon you as a perfect fool, monsieur.” Then she remarked to the General: “I am not going to let you have any of my money. I must be off to my rooms now, to see what they are like. Afterwards we will look round a little. Lift me up.”

Again the Grandmother was borne aloft and carried down the staircase amid a perfect bevy of followers—the General walking as though he had been hit over the head with a cudgel, and De Griers seeming to be plunged in thought. Endeavouring to be left behind, Mlle. Blanche next thought better of it, and followed the rest, with the Prince in her wake. Only the German savant and Madame de Cominges did not leave the General’s apartments.


At spas—and, probably, all over Europe—hotel landlords and managers are guided in their allotment of rooms to visitors, not so much by the wishes and requirements of those visitors, as by their personal estimate of the same. It may also be said that these landlords and managers seldom make a mistake. To the Grandmother, however, our landlord, for some reason or another, allotted such a sumptuous suite that he fairly overreached himself; for he assigned her a suite consisting of four magnificently appointed rooms, with bathroom, servants’ quarters, a separate room for her maid, and so on. In fact, during the previous week the suite had been occupied by no less a personage than a Grand Duchess: which circumstance was duly explained to the new occupant, as an excuse for raising the price of these apartments. The Grandmother had herself carried— or, rather, wheeled—through each room in turn, in order that she might subject the whole to a close and attentive scrutiny; while the landlord—an elderly, bald-headed man—walked respectfully by her side.

What every one took the Grandmother to be I do not know, but it appeared, at least, that she was accounted a person not only of great importance, but also, and still more, of great wealth; and without delay they entered her in the hotel register as “Madame la Generale, Princesse de Tarassevitcheva,” although she had never been a princess in her life. Her retinue, her reserved compartment in the train, her pile of unnecessary trunks, portmanteaux, and strong-boxes, all helped to increase her prestige; while her wheeled chair, her sharp tone and voice, her eccentric questions (put with an air of the most overbearing and unbridled imperiousness), her whole figure—upright, rugged, and commanding as it was—completed the general awe in which she was held. As she inspected her new abode she ordered her chair to be stopped at intervals in order that, with finger extended towards some article of furniture, she might ply the respectfully smiling, yet secretly apprehensive, landlord with unexpected questions. She addressed them to him in French, although her pronunciation of the language was so bad that sometimes I had to translate them. For the most part, the landlord’s answers were unsatisfactory, and failed to please her; nor were the questions themselves of a practical nature, but related, generally, to God knows what.

For instance, on one occasion she halted before a picture which, a poor copy of a well-known original, had a mythological subject.

“Of whom is this a portrait?” she inquired.

The landlord explained that it was probably that of a countess.

“But how know you that?” the old lady retorted.

“You live here, yet you cannot say for certain! And why is the picture there at all? And why do its eyes look so crooked?”

To all these questions the landlord could return no satisfactory reply, despite his floundering endeavours.

“The blockhead!” exclaimed the Grandmother in Russian.

Then she proceeded on her way—only to repeat the same story in front of a Saxon statuette which she had sighted from afar, and had commanded, for some reason or another, to be brought to her. Finally, she inquired of the landlord what was the value of the carpet in her bedroom, as well as where the said carpet had been manufactured; but, the landlord could do no more than promise to make inquiries.

“What donkeys these people are!” she commented. Next, she turned her attention to the bed.

“What a huge counterpane!” she exclaimed. “Turn it back, please.” The lacqueys did so.

“Further yet, further yet,” the old lady cried. “Turn it RIGHT back. Also, take off those pillows and bolsters, and lift up the feather bed.”

The bed was opened for her inspection.

“Mercifully it contains no bugs,” she remarked.

“Pull off the whole thing, and then put on my own pillows and sheets. The place is too luxurious for an old woman like myself. It is too large for any one person. Alexis Ivanovitch, come and see me whenever you are not teaching your pupils,”

“After tomorrow I shall no longer be in the General’s service,” I replied, “but merely living in the hotel on my own account.”

“Why so?”

“Because, the other day, there arrived from Berlin a German and his wife—persons of some importance; and, it chanced that, when taking a walk, I spoke to them in German without having properly compassed the Berlin accent.”


“Yes: and this action on my part the Baron held to be an insult, and complained about it to the General, who yesterday dismissed me from his employ.”

“But I suppose you must have threatened that precious Baron, or something of the kind? However, even if you did so, it was a matter of no moment.”

“No, I did not. The Baron was the aggressor by raising his stick at me.”

Upon that the Grandmother turned sharply to the General.

“What? You permitted yourself to treat your tutor thus, you nincompoop, and to dismiss him from his post? You are a blockhead—an utter blockhead! I can see that clearly.”

“Do not alarm yourself, my dear mother,” the General replied with a lofty air—an air in which there was also a tinge of familiarity. “I am quite capable of managing my own affairs. Moreover, Alexis Ivanovitch has not given you a true account of the matter.”

“What did you do next?” The old lady inquired of me.

“I wanted to challenge the Baron to a duel,” I replied as modestly as possible; “but the General protested against my doing so.”

“And WHY did you so protest? ” she inquired of the General. Then she turned to the landlord, and questioned him as to whether HE would not have fought a duel, if challenged. “For,” she added, “I can see no difference between you and the Baron; nor can I bear that German visage of yours.” Upon this the landlord bowed and departed, though he could not have understood the Grandmother’s compliment.

“Pardon me, Madame,” the General continued with a sneer, “but are duels really feasible?”

“Why not? All men are crowing cocks, and that is why they quarrel. YOU, though, I perceive, are a blockhead—a man who does not even know how to carry his breeding. Lift me up. Potapitch, see to it that you always have TWO bearers ready. Go and arrange for their hire. But we shall not require more than two, for I shall need only to be carried upstairs. On the level or in the street I can be WHEELED along. Go and tell them that, and pay them in advance, so that they may show me some respect. You too, Potapitch, are always to come with me, and YOU, Alexis Ivanovitch, are to point out to me this Baron as we go along, in order that I may get a squint at the precious ‘Von.’ And where is that roulette played?”

I explained to her that the game was carried on in the salons of the Casino; whereupon there ensued a string of questions as to whether there were many such salons, whether many people played in them, whether those people played a whole day at a time, and whether the game was managed according to fixed rules. At length, I thought it best to say that the most advisable course would be for her to go and see it for herself, since a mere description of it would be a difficult matter.

“Then take me straight there,” she said, “and do you walk on in front of me, Alexis Ivanovitch.”

“What, mother? Before you have so much as rested from your journey?” the General inquired with some solicitude. Also, for some reason which I could not divine, he seemed to be growing nervous; and, indeed, the whole party was evincing signs of confusion, and exchanging glances with one another. Probably they were thinking that it would be a ticklish—even an embarrassing—business to accompany the Grandmother to the Casino, where, very likely, she would perpetrate further eccentricities, and in public too! Yet on their own initiative they had offered to escort her!

“Why should I rest?” she retorted. “I am not tired, for I have been sitting still these past five days. Let us see what your medicinal springs and waters are like, and where they are situated. What, too, about that, that—what did you call it, Prascovia?—oh, about that mountain top?”

“Yes, we are going to see it, Grandmamma.”

“Very well. Is there anything else for me to see here?”

“Yes! Quite a number of things,” Polina forced herself to say.

“Martha, YOU must come with me as well,” went on the old lady to her maid.

“No, no, mother!” ejaculated the General. “Really she cannot come. They would not admit even Potapitch to the Casino.”

“Rubbish! Because she is my servant, is that a reason for turning her out? Why, she is only a human being like the rest of us; and as she has been travelling for a week she might like to look about her. With whom else could she go out but myself ? She would never dare to show her nose in the street alone.”

“But, mother—”

“Are you ashamed to be seen with me? Stop at home, then, and you will be asked no questions. A pretty General YOU are, to be sure! I am a general’s widow myself. But, after all, why should I drag the whole party with me? I will go and see the sights with only Alexis Ivanovitch as my escort.”

De Griers strongly insisted that EVERY ONE ought to accompany her. Indeed, he launched out into a perfect shower of charming phrases concerning the pleasure of acting as her cicerone, and so forth. Every one was touched with his words.

“Mais elle est tombee en enfance,” he added aside to the General. ” Seule, elle fera des betises.” More than this I could not overhear, but he seemed to have got some plan in his mind, or even to be feeling a slight return of his hopes.

The distance to the Casino was about half a verst, and our route led us through the Chestnut Avenue until we reached the square directly fronting the building. The General, I could see, was a trifle reassured by the fact that, though our progress was distinctly eccentric in its nature, it was, at least, correct and orderly. As a matter of fact, the spectacle of a person who is unable to walk is not anything to excite surprise at a spa. Yet it was clear that the General had a great fear of the Casino itself: for why should a person who had lost the use of her limbs—more especially an old woman—be going to rooms which were set apart only for roulette? On either side of the wheeled chair walked Polina and Mlle. Blanche—the latter smiling, modestly jesting, and, in short, making herself so agreeable to the Grandmother that in the end the old lady relented towards her. On the other side of the chair Polina had to answer an endless flow of petty questions—such as “Who was it passed just now?” “Who is that coming along?” “Is the town a large one?” “Are the public gardens extensive?” “What sort of trees are those?” “What is the name of those hills?” “Do I see eagles flying yonder?” “What is that absurd-looking building?” and so forth. Meanwhile Astley whispered to me, as he walked by my side, that he looked for much to happen that morning. Behind the old lady’s chair marched Potapitch and Martha—Potapitch in his frockcoat and white waistcoat, with a cloak over all, and the forty-year-old and rosy, but slightly grey-headed, Martha in a mobcap, cotton dress, and squeaking shoes. Frequently the old lady would twist herself round to converse with these servants. As for De Griers, he spoke as though he had made up his mind to do something (though it is also possible that he spoke in this manner merely in order to hearten the General, with whom he appeared to have held a conference). But, alas, the Grandmother had uttered the fatal words, “I am not going to give you any of my money;” and though De Griers might regard these words lightly, the General knew his mother better. Also, I noticed that De Griers and Mlle. Blanche were still exchanging looks; while of the Prince and the German savant I lost sight at the end of the Avenue, where they had turned back and left us.

Into the Casino we marched in triumph. At once, both in the person of the commissionaire and in the persons of the footmen, there sprang to life the same reverence as had arisen in the lacqueys of the hotel. Yet it was not without some curiosity that they eyed us.

Without loss of time, the Grandmother gave orders that she should be wheeled through every room in the establishment; of which apartments she praised a few, while to others she remained indifferent. Concerning everything, however, she asked questions. Finally we reached the gaming-salons, where a lacquey who was, acting as guard over the doors, flung them open as though he were a man possessed.

The Grandmother’s entry into the roulette-salon produced a profound impression upon the public. Around the tables, and at the further end of the room where the trente-et-quarante table was set out, there may have been gathered from 150 to 200 gamblers, ranged in several rows. Those who had succeeded in pushing their way to the tables were standing with their feet firmly planted, in order to avoid having to give up their places until they should have finished their game (since merely to stand looking on—thus occupying a gambler’s place for nothing—was not permitted). True, chairs were provided around the tables, but few players made use of them—more especially if there was a large attendance of the general public; since to stand allowed of a closer approach; and, therefore, of greater facilities for calculation and staking. Behind the foremost row were herded a second and a third row of people awaiting their turn; but sometimes their impatience led these people to stretch a hand through the first row, in order to deposit their stakes. Even third-row individuals would dart forward to stake; whence seldom did more than five or ten minutes pass without a scene over disputed money arising at one or another end of the table. On the other hand, the police of the Casino were an able body of men; and though to escape the crush was an impossibility, however much one might wish it, the eight croupiers apportioned to each table kept an eye upon the stakes, performed the necessary reckoning, and decided disputes as they arose.

In the last resort they always called in the Casino police, and the disputes would immediately come to an end. Policemen were stationed about the Casino in ordinary costume, and mingled with the spectators so as to make it impossible to recognise them. In particular they kept a lookout for pickpockets and swindlers, who simply swanned in the roulette salons, and reaped a rich harvest. Indeed, in every direction money was being filched from pockets or purses—though, of course, if the attempt miscarried, a great uproar ensued. One had only to approach a roulette table, begin to play, and then openly grab some one else’s winnings, for a din to be raised, and the thief to start vociferating that the stake was HIS; and, if the coup had been carried out with sufficient skill, and the witnesses wavered at all in their testimony, the thief would as likely as not succeed in getting away with the money, provided that the sum was not a large one—not large enough to have attracted the attention of the croupiers or some fellow-player. Moreover, if it were a stake of insignificant size, its true owner would sometimes decline to continue the dispute, rather than become involved in a scandal. Conversely, if the thief was detected, he was ignominiously expelled the building.

Upon all this the Grandmother gazed with open-eyed curiosity; and, on some thieves happening to be turned out of the place, she was delighted. Trente-et-quarante interested her but little; she preferred roulette, with its ever-revolving wheel. At length she expressed a wish to view the game closer; whereupon in some mysterious manner, the lacqueys and other officious agents (especially one or two ruined Poles of the kind who keep offering their services to successful gamblers and foreigners in general) at once found and cleared a space for the old lady among the crush, at the very centre of one of the tables, and next to the chief croupier; after which they wheeled her chair thither. Upon this a number of visitors who were not playing, but only looking on (particularly some Englishmen with their families), pressed closer forward towards the table, in order to watch the old lady from among the ranks of the gamblers. Many a lorgnette I saw turned in her direction, and the croupiers’ hopes rose high that such an eccentric player was about to provide them with something out of the common. An old lady of seventy-five years who, though unable to walk, desired to play was not an everyday phenomenon. I too pressed forward towards the table, and ranged myself by the Grandmother’s side; while Martha and Potapitch remained somewhere in the background among the crowd, and the General, Polina, and De Griers, with Mlle. Blanche, also remained hidden among the spectators.

At first the old lady did no more than watch the gamblers, and ply me, in a half-whisper, with sharp-broken questions as to who was so-and-so. Especially did her favour light upon a very young man who was plunging heavily, and had won (so it was whispered) as much as 40,000 francs, which were lying before him on the table in a heap of gold and bank-notes. His eyes kept flashing, and his hands shaking; yet all the while he staked without any sort of calculation—just what came to his hand, as he kept winning and winning, and raking and raking in his gains. Around him lacqueys fussed—placing chairs just behind where he was standing— and clearing the spectators from his vicinity, so that he should have more room, and not be crowded—the whole done, of course, in expectation of a generous largesse. From time to time other gamblers would hand him part of their winnings—being glad to let him stake for them as much as his hand could grasp; while beside him stood a Pole in a state of violent, but respectful, agitation, who, also in expectation of a generous largesse, kept whispering to him at intervals (probably telling him what to stake, and advising and directing his play). Yet never once did the player throw him a glance as he staked and staked, and raked in his winnings. Evidently, the player in question was dead to all besides.

For a few minutes the Grandmother watched him.

“Go and tell him,” suddenly she exclaimed with a nudge at my elbow, “—go and tell him to stop, and to take his money with him, and go home. Presently he will be losing—yes, losing everything that he has now won.” She seemed almost breathless with excitement.

“Where is Potapitch?” she continued. “Send Potapitch to speak to him. No, YOU must tell him, you must tell him,”—here she nudged me again—“for I have not the least notion where Potapitch is. Sortez, sortez,” she shouted to the young man, until I leant over in her direction and whispered in her ear that no shouting was allowed, nor even loud speaking, since to do so disturbed the calculations of the players, and might lead to our being ejected.

“How provoking!” she retorted. “Then the young man is done for! I suppose he WISHES to be ruined. Yet I could not bear to see him have to return it all. What a fool the fellow is!” and the old lady turned sharply away.

On the left, among the players at the other half of the table, a young lady was playing, with, beside her, a dwarf. Who the dwarf may have been—whether a relative or a person whom she took with her to act as a foil—I do not know; but I had noticed her there on previous occasions, since, everyday, she entered the Casino at one o’clock precisely, and departed at two—thus playing for exactly one hour. Being well-known to the attendants, she always had a seat provided for her; and, taking some gold and a few thousand-franc notes out of her pocket—would begin quietly, coldly, and after much calculation, to stake, and mark down the figures in pencil on a paper, as though striving to work out a system according to which, at given moments, the odds might group themselves. Always she staked large coins, and either lost or won one, two, or three thousand francs a day, but not more; after which she would depart. The Grandmother took a long look at her.

“THAT woman is not losing,” she said. “To whom does she belong? Do you know her? Who is she?”

“She is, I believe, a Frenchwoman,” I replied.

“Ah! A bird of passage, evidently. Besides, I can see that she has her shoes polished. Now, explain to me the meaning of each round in the game, and the way in which one ought to stake.”

Upon this I set myself to explain the meaning of all the combinations—of “rouge et noir,” of “pair et impair,” of “manque et passe,” with, lastly, the different values in the system of numbers. The Grandmother listened attentively, took notes, put questions in various forms, and laid the whole thing to heart. Indeed, since an example of each system of stakes kept constantly occurring, a great deal of information could be assimilated with ease and celerity. The Grandmother was vastly pleased.

“But what is zero?” she inquired. “Just now I heard the flaxen-haired croupier call out ‘zero!’ And why does he keep raking in all the money that is on the table? To think that he should grab the whole pile for himself! What does zero mean?”

“Zero is what the bank takes for itself. If the wheel stops at that figure, everything lying on the table becomes the absolute property of the bank. Also, whenever the wheel has begun to turn, the bank ceases to pay out anything.”

“Then I should receive nothing if I were staking?”

“No; unless by any chance you had PURPOSELY staked on zero; in which case you would receive thirty-five times the value of your stake.”

“Why thirty-five times, when zero so often turns up? And if so, why do not more of these fools stake upon it?”

“Because the number of chances against its occurrence is thirty-six.”

“Rubbish! Potapitch, Potapitch! Come here, and I will give you some money.” The old lady took out of her pocket a tightly-clasped purse, and extracted from its depths a ten-gulden piece. “Go at once, and stake that upon zero.”

“But, Madame, zero has only this moment turned up,” I remonstrated; “wherefore, it may not do so again for ever so long. Wait a little, and you may then have a better chance.”

“Rubbish! Stake, please.”

“Pardon me, but zero might not turn up again until, say, tonight, even though you had staked thousands upon it. It often happens so.”

“Rubbish, rubbish! Who fears the wolf should never enter the forest. What? We have lost? Then stake again.”

A second ten-gulden piece did we lose, and then I put down a third. The Grandmother could scarcely remain seated in her chair, so intent was she upon the little ball as it leapt through the notches of the ever-revolving wheel. However, the third ten-gulden piece followed the first two. Upon this the Grandmother went perfectly crazy. She could no longer sit still, and actually struck the table with her fist when the croupier cried out, “Trente-six,” instead of the desiderated zero.

“To listen to him!” fumed the old lady. “When will that accursed zero ever turn up? I cannot breathe until I see it. I believe that that infernal croupier is PURPOSELY keeping it from turning up. Alexis Ivanovitch, stake TWO golden pieces this time. The moment we cease to stake, that cursed zero will come turning up, and we shall get nothing.”

“My good Madame—”

“Stake, stake! It is not YOUR money.”

Accordingly I staked two ten-gulden pieces. The ball went hopping round the wheel until it began to settle through the notches. Meanwhile the Grandmother sat as though petrified, with my hand convulsively clutched in hers.

“Zero!” called the croupier.

“There! You see, you see!” cried the old lady, as she turned and faced me, wreathed in smiles. “I told you so! It was the Lord God himself who suggested to me to stake those two coins. Now, how much ought I to receive? Why do they not pay it out to me? Potapitch! Martha! Where are they? What has become of our party? Potapitch, Potapitch!”

“Presently, Madame,” I whispered. “Potapitch is outside, and they would decline to admit him to these rooms. See! You are being paid out your money. Pray take it.” The croupiers were making up a heavy packet of coins, sealed in blue paper, and containing fifty ten gulden pieces, together with an unsealed packet containing another twenty. I handed the whole to the old lady in a money-shovel.

“Faites le jeu, messieurs! Faites le jeu, messieurs! Rien ne va plus,” proclaimed the croupier as once more he invited the company to stake, and prepared to turn the wheel.

“We shall be too late! He is going to spin again! Stake, stake!” The Grandmother was in a perfect fever. “Do not hang back! Be quick!” She seemed almost beside herself, and nudged me as hard as she could.

“Upon what shall I stake, Madame?”

“Upon zero, upon zero! Again upon zero! Stake as much as ever you can. How much have we got? Seventy ten-gulden pieces? We shall not miss them, so stake twenty pieces at a time.”

“Think a moment, Madame. Sometimes zero does not turn up for two hundred rounds in succession. I assure you that you may lose all your capital.”

“You are wrong—utterly wrong. Stake, I tell you! What a chattering tongue you have! I know perfectly well what I am doing.” The old lady was shaking with excitement.

“But the rules do not allow of more than 120 gulden being staked upon zero at a time.”

“How ‘do not allow’? Surely you are wrong? Monsieur, monsieur—” here she nudged the croupier who was sitting on her left, and preparing to spin— “combien zero? Douze? Douze?”

I hastened to translate.

“Oui, Madame,” was the croupier’s polite reply. “No single stake must exceed four thousand florins. That is the regulation.”

“Then there is nothing else for it. We must risk in gulden.”

“Le jeu est fait!” the croupier called. The wheel revolved, and stopped at thirty. We had lost!

“Again, again, again! Stake again!” shouted the old lady. Without attempting to oppose her further, but merely shrugging my shoulders, I placed twelve more ten-gulden pieces upon the table. The wheel whirled around and around, with the Grandmother simply quaking as she watched its revolutions.

“Does she again think that zero is going to be the winning coup?” thought I, as I stared at her in astonishment. Yet an absolute assurance of winning was shining on her face; she looked perfectly convinced that zero was about to be called again. At length the ball dropped off into one of the notches.

“Zero!” cried the croupier.

“Ah!!!” screamed the old lady as she turned to me in a whirl of triumph.

I myself was at heart a gambler. At that moment I became acutely conscious both of that fact and of the fact that my hands and knees were shaking, and that the blood was beating in my brain. Of course this was a rare occasion—an occasion on which zero had turned up no less than three times within a dozen rounds; yet in such an event there was nothing so very surprising, seeing that, only three days ago, I myself had been a witness to zero turning up THREE TIMES IN SUCCESSION, so that one of the players who was recording the coups on paper was moved to remark that for several days past zero had never turned up at all!

With the Grandmother, as with any one who has won a very large sum, the management settled up with great attention and respect, since she was fortunate to have to receive no less than 4200 gulden. Of these gulden the odd 200 were paid her in gold, and the remainder in bank notes.

This time the old lady did not call for Potapitch; for that she was too preoccupied. Though not outwardly shaken by the event (indeed, she seemed perfectly calm), she was trembling inwardly from head to foot. At length, completely absorbed in the game, she burst out:

“Alexis Ivanovitch, did not the croupier just say that 4000 florins were the most that could be staked at any one time? Well, take these 4000, and stake them upon the red.”

To oppose her was useless. Once more the wheel revolved.

“Rouge!” proclaimed the croupier.

Again 4000 florins—in all 8000!

“Give me them,” commanded the Grandmother, “and stake the other 4000 upon the red again.”

I did so.

“Rouge!” proclaimed the croupier.

“Twelve thousand!” cried the old lady. “Hand me the whole lot. Put the gold into this purse here, and count the bank notes. Enough! Let us go home. Wheel my chair away.”


THE chair, with the old lady beaming in it, was wheeled away towards the doors at the further end of the salon, while our party hastened to crowd around her, and to offer her their congratulations. In fact, eccentric as was her conduct, it was also overshadowed by her triumph; with the result that the General no longer feared to be publicly compromised by being seen with such a strange woman, but, smiling in a condescending, cheerfully familiar way, as though he were soothing a child, he offered his greetings to the old lady. At the same time, both he and the rest of the spectators were visibly impressed. Everywhere people kept pointing to the Grandmother, and talking about her. Many people even walked beside her chair, in order to view her the better while, at a little distance, Astley was carrying on a conversation on the subject with two English acquaintances of his. De Griers was simply overflowing with smiles and compliments, and a number of fine ladies were staring at the Grandmother as though she had been something curious.

“Quelle victoire!” exclaimed De Griers.

“Mais, Madame, c’etait du feu!” added Mlle. Blanche with an elusive smile.

“Yes, I have won twelve thousand florins,” replied the old lady. “And then there is all this gold. With it the total ought to come to nearly thirteen thousand. How much is that in Russian money? Six thousand roubles, I think?”

However, I calculated that the sum would exceed seven thousand roubles—or, at the present rate of exchange, even eight thousand.

“Eight thousand roubles! What a splendid thing! And to think of you simpletons sitting there and doing nothing! Potapitch! Martha! See what I have won!”

“How DID you do it, Madame?” Martha exclaimed ecstatically. “Eight thousand roubles!”

“And I am going to give you fifty gulden apiece. There they are.”

Potapitch and Martha rushed towards her to kiss her hand.

“And to each bearer also I will give a ten-gulden piece. Let them have it out of the gold, Alexis Ivanovitch. But why is this footman bowing to me, and that other man as well? Are they congratulating me? Well, let them have ten gulden apiece.”

“Madame la princesse—Un pauvre expatrie—Malheur continuel—Les princes russes sont si genereux!” said a man who for some time past had been hanging around the old lady’s chair—a personage who, dressed in a shabby frockcoat and coloured waistcoat, kept taking off his cap, and smiling pathetically.

“Give him ten gulden,” said the Grandmother. “No, give him twenty. Now, enough of that, or I shall never get done with you all. Take a moment’s rest, and then carry me away. Prascovia, I mean to buy a new dress for you tomorrow. Yes, and for you too, Mlle. Blanche. Please translate, Prascovia.”

“Merci, Madame,” replied Mlle. Blanche gratefully as she twisted her face into the mocking smile which usually she kept only for the benefit of De Griers and the General. The latter looked confused, and seemed greatly relieved when we reached the Avenue.

“How surprised Theodosia too will be!” went on the Grandmother (thinking of the General’s nursemaid). “She, like yourselves, shall have the price of a new gown. Here, Alexis Ivanovitch! Give that beggar something” (a crooked-backed ragamuffin had approached to stare at us).

“But perhaps he is NOT a beggar—only a rascal,” I replied.

“Never mind, never mind. Give him a gulden.”

I approached the beggar in question, and handed him the coin. Looking at me in great astonishment, he silently accepted the gulden, while from his person there proceeded a strong smell of liquor.

“Have you never tried your luck, Alexis Ivanovitch?”

“No, Madame.”

“Yet just now I could see that you were burning to do so?”

“I do mean to try my luck presently.”

“Then stake everything upon zero. You have seen how it ought to be done? How much capital do you possess?”

“Two hundred gulden, Madame.”

“Not very much. See here; I will lend you five hundred if you wish. Take this purse of mine.” With that she added sharply to the General: “But YOU need not expect to receive any.”

This seemed to upset him, but he said nothing, and De Griers contented himself by scowling.

“Que diable!” he whispered to the General. “C’est une terrible vieille.”

“Look! Another beggar, another beggar!” exclaimed the grandmother. “Alexis Ivanovitch, go and give him a gulden.”

As she spoke I saw approaching us a grey-headed old man with a wooden leg—a man who was dressed in a blue frockcoat and carrying a staff. He looked like an old soldier. As soon as I tendered him the coin he fell back a step or two, and eyed me threateningly.

“Was ist der Teufel!” he cried, and appended thereto a round dozen of oaths.

“The man is a perfect fool!” exclaimed the Grandmother, waving her hand. “Move on now, for I am simply famished. When we have lunched we will return to that place.”

“What?” cried I. “You are going to play again?”

“What else do you suppose?” she retorted. “Are you going only to sit here, and grow sour, and let me look at you?”

“Madame,” said De Griers confidentially, “les chances peuvent tourner. Une seule mauvaise chance, et vous perdrez tout—surtout avec votre jeu. C’etait terrible!”

“Oui; vous perdrez absolument,” put in Mlle. Blanche.

“What has that got to do with YOU?” retorted the old lady. “It is not YOUR money that I am going to lose; it is my own. And where is that Mr. Astley of yours?” she added to myself.

“He stayed behind in the Casino.”

“What a pity! He is such a nice sort of man!”

Arriving home, and meeting the landlord on the staircase, the Grandmother called him to her side, and boasted to him of her winnings—thereafter doing the same to Theodosia, and conferring upon her thirty gulden; after which she bid her serve luncheon. The meal over, Theodosia and Martha broke into a joint flood of ecstasy.

“I was watching you all the time, Madame,” quavered Martha, “and I asked Potapitch what mistress was trying to do. And, my word! the heaps and heaps of money that were lying upon the table! Never in my life have I seen so much money. And there were gentlefolk around it, and other gentlefolk sitting down. So, I asked Potapitch where all these gentry had come from; for, thought I, maybe the Holy Mother of God will help our mistress among them. Yes, I prayed for you, Madame, and my heart died within me, so that I kept trembling and trembling. The Lord be with her, I thought to myself; and in answer to my prayer He has now sent you what He has done! Even yet I tremble—I tremble to think of it all.”

“Alexis Ivanovitch,” said the old lady, “after luncheon,—that is to say, about four o’clock—get ready to go out with me again. But in the meanwhile, good-bye. Do not forget to call a doctor, for I must take the waters. Now go and get rested a little.”

I left the Grandmother’s presence in a state of bewilderment.

Vainly I endeavoured to imagine what would become of our party, or what turn the affair would next take. I could perceive that none of the party had yet recovered their presence of mind—least of all the General. The factor of the Grandmother’s appearance in place of the hourly expected telegram to announce her death (with, of course, resultant legacies) had so upset the whole scheme of intentions and projects that it was with a decided feeling of apprehension and growing paralysis that the conspirators viewed any future performances of the old lady at roulette. Yet this second factor was not quite so important as the first, since, though the Grandmother had twice declared that she did not intend to give the General any money, that declaration was not a complete ground for the abandonment of hope. Certainly De Griers, who, with the General, was up to the neck in the affair, had not wholly lost courage; and I felt sure that Mlle. Blanche also—Mlle. Blanche who was not only as deeply involved as the other two, but also expectant of becoming Madame General and an important legatee—would not lightly surrender the position, but would use her every resource of coquetry upon the old lady, in order to afford a contrast to the impetuous Polina, who was difficult to understand, and lacked the art of pleasing.

Yet now, when the Grandmother had just performed an astonishing feat at roulette; now, when the old lady’s personality had been so clearly and typically revealed as that of a rugged, arrogant woman who was “tombee en enfance”; now, when everything appeared to be lost,—why, now the Grandmother was as merry as a child which plays with thistle-down. “Good Lord!” I thought with, may God forgive me, a most malicious smile, “every ten-gulden piece which the Grandmother staked must have raised a blister on the General’s heart, and maddened De Griers, and driven Mlle. de Cominges almost to frenzy with the sight of this spoon dangling before her lips.” Another factor is the circumstance that even when, overjoyed at winning, the Grandmother was distributing alms right and left, and taking every one to be a beggar, she again snapped out to the General that he was not going to be allowed any of her money— which meant that the old lady had quite made up her mind on the point, and was sure of it. Yes, danger loomed ahead.

All these thoughts passed through my mind during the few moments that, having left the old lady’s rooms, I was ascending to my own room on the top storey. What most struck me was the fact that, though I had divined the chief, the stoutest, threads which united the various actors in the drama, I had, until now, been ignorant of the methods and secrets of the game. For Polina had never been completely open with me. Although, on occasions, it had happened that involuntarily, as it were, she had revealed to me something of her heart, I had noticed that in most cases—in fact, nearly always—she had either laughed away these revelations, or grown confused, or purposely imparted to them a false guise. Yes, she must have concealed a great deal from me. But, I had a presentiment that now the end of this strained and mysterious situation was approaching. Another stroke, and all would be finished and exposed. Of my own fortunes, interested though I was in the affair, I took no account. I was in the strange position of possessing but two hundred gulden, of being at a loose end, of lacking both a post, the means of subsistence, a shred of hope, and any plans for the future, yet of caring nothing for these things. Had not my mind been so full of Polina, I should have given myself up to the comical piquancy of the impending denouement, and laughed my fill at it. But the thought of Polina was torture to me. That her fate was settled I already had an inkling; yet that was not the thought which was giving me so much uneasiness. What I really wished for was to penetrate her secrets. I wanted her to come to me and say, ” I love you, ” and, if she would not so come, or if to hope that she would ever do so was an unthinkable absurdity—why, then there was nothing else for me to want. Even now I do not know what I am wanting. I feel like a man who has lost his way. I yearn but to be in her presence, and within the circle of her light and splendour—to be there now, and forever, and for the whole of my life. More I do not know. How can I ever bring myself to leave her?

On reaching the third storey of the hotel I experienced a shock. I was just passing the General’s suite when something caused me to look round. Out of a door about twenty paces away there was coming Polina! She hesitated for a moment on seeing me, and then beckoned me to her.

“Polina Alexandrovna!”

“Hush! Not so loud.”

“Something startled me just now,” I whispered, “and I looked round, and saw you. Some electrical influence seems to emanate from your form.”

“Take this letter,” she went on with a frown (probably she had not even heard my words, she was so preoccupied), “and hand it personally to Mr. Astley. Go as quickly as ever you can, please. No answer will be required. He himself—” She did not finish her sentence.

“To Mr. Astley?” I asked, in some astonishment.

But she had vanished again.

Aha! So the two were carrying on a correspondence! However, I set off to search for Astley—first at his hotel, and then at the Casino, where I went the round of the salons in vain. At length, vexed, and almost in despair, I was on my way home when I ran across him among a troop of English ladies and gentlemen who had been out for a ride. Beckoning to him to stop, I handed him the letter. We had barely time even to look at one another, but I suspected that it was of set purpose that he restarted his horse so quickly.

Was jealousy, then, gnawing at me? At all events, I felt exceedingly depressed, despite the fact that I had no desire to ascertain what the correspondence was about. To think that HE should be her confidant! “My friend, mine own familiar friend!” passed through my mind. Yet WAS there any love in the matter? “Of course not,” reason whispered to me. But reason goes for little on such occasions. I felt that the matter must be cleared up, for it was becoming unpleasantly complex.

I had scarcely set foot in the hotel when the commissionaire and the landlord (the latter issuing from his room for the purpose) alike informed me that I was being searched for high and low—that three separate messages to ascertain my whereabouts had come down from the General. When I entered his study I was feeling anything but kindly disposed. I found there the General himself, De Griers, and Mlle. Blanche, but not Mlle.‘s mother, who was a person whom her reputed daughter used only for show purposes, since in all matters of business the daughter fended for herself, and it is unlikely that the mother knew anything about them.

Some very heated discussion was in progress, and meanwhile the door of the study was open—an unprecedented circumstance. As I approached the portals I could hear loud voices raised, for mingled with the pert, venomous accents of De Griers were Mlle. Blanche’s excited, impudently abusive tongue and the General’s plaintive wail as, apparently, he sought to justify himself in something. But on my appearance every one stopped speaking, and tried to put a better face upon matters. De Griers smoothed his hair, and twisted his angry face into a smile—into the mean, studiedly polite French smile which I so detested; while the downcast, perplexed General assumed an air of dignity—though only in a mechanical way. On the other hand, Mlle. Blanche did not trouble to conceal the wrath that was sparkling in her countenance, but bent her gaze upon me with an air of impatient expectancy. I may remark that hitherto she had treated me with absolute superciliousness, and, so far from answering my salutations, had always ignored them.

“Alexis Ivanovitch,” began the General in a tone of affectionate upbraiding, “may I say to you that I find it strange, exceedingly strange, that—In short, your conduct towards myself and my family—In a word, your-er-extremely”

” Eh! Ce n’est pas ca,” interrupted De Griers in a tone of impatience and contempt (evidently he was the ruling spirit of the conclave). “Mon cher monsieur, notre general se trompe. What he means to say is that he warns you—he begs of you most eamestly—not to ruin him. I use the expression because—”

“Why? Why?” I interjected.

“Because you have taken upon yourself to act as guide to this, to this—how shall I express it?—to this old lady, a cette pauvre terrible vieille. But she will only gamble away all that she has—gamble it away like thistledown. You yourself have seen her play. Once she has acquired the taste for gambling, she will never leave the roulette-table, but, of sheer perversity and temper, will stake her all, and lose it. In cases such as hers a gambler can never be torn away from the game; and then—and then—”

“And then,” asseverated the General, “you will have ruined my whole family. I and my family are her heirs, for she has no nearer relatives than ourselves. I tell you frankly that my affairs are in great—very great disorder; how much they are so you yourself are partially aware. If she should lose a large sum, or, maybe, her whole fortune, what will become of us—of my children” (here the General exchanged a glance with De Griers)” or of me? “(here he looked at Mlle. Blanche, who turned her head contemptuously away). “Alexis Ivanovitch, I beg of you to save us.”

“Tell me, General, how am I to do so? On what footing do I stand here?”

“Refuse to take her about. Simply leave her alone.”

“But she would soon find some one else to take my place?”

“Ce n’est pas ca, ce n’est pas ca,” again interrupted De Griers. “Que diable! Do not leave her alone so much as advise her, persuade her, draw her away. In any case do not let her gamble; find her some counter-attraction.”

“And how am I to do that? If only you would undertake the task, Monsieur de Griers! ” I said this last as innocently as possible, but at once saw a rapid glance of excited interrogation pass from Mlle. Blanche to De Griers, while in the face of the latter also there gleamed something which he could not repress.

“Well, at the present moment she would refuse to accept my services,” said he with a gesture. “But if, later—”

Here he gave Mlle. Blanche another glance which was full of meaning; whereupon she advanced towards me with a bewitching smile, and seized and pressed my hands. Devil take it, but how that devilish visage of hers could change! At the present moment it was a visage full of supplication, and as gentle in its expression as that of a smiling, roguish infant. Stealthily, she drew me apart from the rest as though the more completely to separate me from them; and, though no harm came of her doing so—for it was merely a stupid manoeuvre, and no more—I found the situation very unpleasant.

The General hastened to lend her his support.

“Alexis Ivanovitch,” he began, “pray pardon me for having said what I did just now—for having said more than I meant to do. I beg and beseech you, I kiss the hem of your garment, as our Russian saying has it, for you, and only you, can save us. I and Mlle. de Cominges, we all of us beg of you— But you understand, do you not? Surely you understand?” and with his eyes he indicated Mlle. Blanche. Truly he was cutting a pitiful figure!

At this moment three low, respectful knocks sounded at the door; which, on being opened, revealed a chambermaid, with Potapitch behind her—come from the Grandmother to request that I should attend her in her rooms. “She is in a bad humour,” added Potapitch.

The time was half-past three.

“My mistress was unable to sleep,” explained Potapitch; “so, after tossing about for a while, she suddenly rose, called for her chair, and sent me to look for you. She is now in the verandah.”

“Quelle megere!” exclaimed De Griers.

True enough, I found Madame in the hotel verandah -much put about at my delay, for she had been unable to contain herself until four o’clock.

“Lift me up,” she cried to the bearers, and once more we set out for the roulette-salons.


The Grandmother was in an impatient, irritable frame of mind. Without doubt the roulette had turned her head, for she appeared to be indifferent to everything else, and, in general, seemed much distraught. For instance, she asked me no questions about objects en route, except that, when a sumptuous barouche passed us and raised a cloud of dust, she lifted her hand for a moment, and inquired, ” What was that? ” Yet even then she did not appear to hear my reply, although at times her abstraction was interrupted by sallies and fits of sharp, impatient fidgeting. Again, when I pointed out to her the Baron and Baroness Burmergelm walking to the Casino, she merely looked at them in an absent-minded sort of way, and said with complete indifference, “Ah!” Then, turning sharply to Potapitch and Martha, who were walking behind us, she rapped out:

“Why have YOU attached yourselves to the party? We are not going to take you with us every time. Go home at once.” Then, when the servants had pulled hasty bows and departed, she added to me: “You are all the escort I need.”

At the Casino the Grandmother seemed to be expected, for no time was lost in procuring her former place beside the croupier. It is my opinion that though croupiers seem such ordinary, humdrum officials—men who care nothing whether the bank wins or loses—they are, in reality, anything but indifferent to the bank’s losing, and are given instructions to attract players, and to keep a watch over the bank’s interests; as also, that for such services, these officials are awarded prizes and premiums. At all events, the croupiers of Roulettenberg seemed to look upon the Grandmother as their lawful prey— whereafter there befell what our party had foretold.

It happened thus:

As soon as ever we arrived the Grandmother ordered me to stake twelve ten-gulden pieces in succession upon zero. Once, twice, and thrice I did so, yet zero never turned up.

“Stake again,” said the old lady with an impatient nudge of my elbow, and I obeyed.

“How many times have we lost? ” she inquired—actually grinding her teeth in her excitement.

“We have lost 144 ten-gulden pieces,” I replied. “I tell you, Madame, that zero may not turn up until nightfall.”

“Never mind,” she interrupted. “Keep on staking upon zero, and also stake a thousand gulden upon rouge. Here is a banknote with which to do so.”

The red turned up, but zero missed again, and we only got our thousand gulden back.

“But you see, you see ” whispered the old lady. “We have now recovered almost all that we staked. Try zero again. Let us do so another ten times, and then leave off.”

By the fifth round, however, the Grandmother was weary of the scheme.

“To the devil with that zero!” she exclaimed. Stake four thousand gulden upon the red.”

“But, Madame, that will be so much to venture!” I remonstrated. “Suppose the red should not turn up?” The Grandmother almost struck me in her excitement. Her agitation was rapidly making her quarrelsome. Consequently, there was nothing for it but to stake the whole four thousand gulden as she had directed.

The wheel revolved while the Grandmother sat as bolt upright, and with as proud and quiet a mien, as though she had not the least doubt of winning.

“Zero!” cried the croupier.

At first the old lady failed to understand the situation; but, as soon as she saw the croupier raking in her four thousand gulden, together with everything else that happened to be lying on the table, and recognised that the zero which had been so long turning up, and on which we had lost nearly two hundred ten-gulden pieces, had at length, as though of set purpose, made a sudden reappearance—why, the poor old lady fell to cursing it, and to throwing herself about, and wailing and gesticulating at the company at large. Indeed, some people in our vicinity actually burst out laughing.

“To think that that accursed zero should have turned up NOW!” she sobbed. “The accursed, accursed thing! And, it is all YOUR fault,” she added, rounding upon me in a frenzy. “It was you who persuaded me to cease staking upon it.”

“But, Madame, I only explained the game to you. How am I to answer for every mischance which may occur in it?”

“You and your mischances!” she whispered threateningly. “Go! Away at once!”

“Farewell, then, Madame.” And I turned to depart.

“No— stay,” she put in hastily. “Where are you going to? Why should you leave me? You fool! No, no… stay here. It is I who was the fool. Tell me what I ought to do.”

“I cannot take it upon myself to advise you, for you will only blame me if I do so. Play at your own discretion. Say exactly what you wish staked, and I will stake it.”

“Very well. Stake another four thousand gulden upon the red. Take this banknote to do it with. I have still got twenty thousand roubles in actual cash.”

“But,” I whispered, “such a quantity of money—”

“Never mind. I cannot rest until I have won back my losses. Stake!”

I staked, and we lost.

“Stake again, stake again—eight thousand at a stroke!”

“I cannot, Madame. The largest stake allowed is four thousand gulden.”

“Well, then; stake four thousand.”

This time we won, and the Grandmother recovered herself a little.

“You see, you see!” she exclaimed as she nudged me. “Stake another four thousand.”

I did so, and lost. Again, and yet again, we lost. “Madame, your twelve thousand gulden are now gone,” at length I reported.

“I see they are,” she replied with, as it were, the calmness of despair. “I see they are,” she muttered again as she gazed straight in front of her, like a person lost in thought. “Ah well, I do not mean to rest until I have staked another four thousand.”

“But you have no money with which to do it, Madame. In this satchel I can see only a few five percent bonds and some transfers—no actual cash.”

“And in the purse?”

“A mere trifle.”

“But there is a money-changer’s office here, is there not? They told me I should be able to get any sort of paper security changed! “

“Quite so; to any amount you please. But you will lose on the transaction what would frighten even a Jew.”

“Rubbish! I am DETERMINED to retrieve my losses. Take me away, and call those fools of bearers.”

I wheeled the chair out of the throng, and, the bearers making their appearance, we left the Casino.

“Hurry, hurry!” commanded the Grandmother. “Show me the nearest way to the money-changer’s. Is it far?”

“A couple of steps, Madame.”

At the turning from the square into the Avenue we came face to face with the whole of our party—the General, De Griers, Mlle. Blanche, and her mother. Only Polina and Mr. Astley were absent.

“Well, well, well! ” exclaimed the Grandmother. “But we have no time to stop. What do you want? I can’t talk to you here.”

I dropped behind a little, and immediately was pounced upon by De Griers.

“She has lost this morning’s winnings,” I whispered, “and also twelve thousand gulden of her original money. At the present moment we are going to get some bonds changed.”

De Griers stamped his foot with vexation, and hastened to communicate the tidings to the General. Meanwhile we continued to wheel the old lady along.

“Stop her, stop her,” whispered the General in consternation.

“You had better try and stop her yourself,” I returned—also in a whisper.

“My good mother,” he said as he approached her, “—my good mother, pray let, let—” (his voice was beginning to tremble and sink) “—let us hire a carriage, and go for a drive. Near here there is an enchanting view to be obtained. We-we-we were just coming to invite you to go and see it.”

“Begone with you and your views!” said the Grandmother angrily as she waved him away.

“And there are trees there, and we could have tea under them,” continued the General—now in utter despair.

“Nous boirons du lait, sur l’herbe fraiche,” added De Griers with the snarl almost of a wild beast.

“Du lait, de l’herbe fraiche”—the idyll, the ideal of the Parisian bourgeois—his whole outlook upon “la nature et la verite”!

“Have done with you and your milk!” cried the old lady. “Go and stuff YOURSELF as much as you like, but my stomach simply recoils from the idea. What are you stopping for? I have nothing to say to you.”

“Here we are, Madame,” I announced. “Here is the moneychanger’s office.”

I entered to get the securities changed, while the Grandmother remained outside in the porch, and the rest waited at a little distance, in doubt as to their best course of action. At length the old lady turned such an angry stare upon them that they departed along the road towards the Casino.

The process of changing involved complicated calculations which soon necessitated my return to the Grandmother for instructions.

“The thieves!” she exclaimed as she clapped her hands together. “Never mind, though. Get the documents cashed—No; send the banker out to me,” she added as an afterthought.

“Would one of the clerks do, Madame?”

“Yes, one of the clerks. The thieves!”

The clerk consented to come out when he perceived that he was being asked for by an old lady who was too infirm to walk; after which the Grandmother began to upbraid him at length, and with great vehemence, for his alleged usuriousness, and to bargain with him in a mixture of Russian, French, and German—I acting as interpreter. Meanwhile, the grave-faced official eyed us both, and silently nodded his head. At the Grandmother, in particular, he gazed with a curiosity which almost bordered upon rudeness. At length, too, he smiled.

“Pray recollect yourself!” cried the old lady. “And may my money choke you! Alexis Ivanovitch, tell him that we can easily repair to someone else.”

“The clerk says that others will give you even less than he.”

Of what the ultimate calculations consisted I do not exactly remember, but at all events they were alarming. Receiving twelve thousand florins in gold, I took also the statement of accounts, and carried it out to the Grandmother.

“Well, well,” she said, “I am no accountant. Let us hurry away, hurry away.” And she waved the paper aside.

“Neither upon that accursed zero, however, nor upon that equally accursed red do I mean to stake a cent,” I muttered to myself as I entered the Casino.

This time I did all I could to persuade the old lady to stake as little as possible—saying that a turn would come in the chances when she would be at liberty to stake more. But she was so impatient that, though at first she agreed to do as I suggested, nothing could stop her when once she had begun. By way of prelude she won stakes of a hundred and two hundred gulden.

“There you are!” she said as she nudged me. “See what we have won! Surely it would be worth our while to stake four thousand instead of a hundred, for we might win another four thousand, and then—! Oh, it was YOUR fault before—all your fault!”

I felt greatly put out as I watched her play, but I decided to hold my tongue, and to give her no more advice.

Suddenly De Griers appeared on the scene. It seemed that all this while he and his companions had been standing beside us— though I noticed that Mlle. Blanche had withdrawn a little from the rest, and was engaged in flirting with the Prince. Clearly the General was greatly put out at this. Indeed, he was in a perfect agony of vexation. But Mlle. was careful never to look his way, though he did his best to attract her notice. Poor General! By turns his face blanched and reddened, and he was trembling to such an extent that he could scarcely follow the old lady’s play. At length Mlle. and the Prince took their departure, and the General followed them.

“Madame, Madame,” sounded the honeyed accents of De Griers as he leant over to whisper in the Grandmother’s ear. “That stake will never win. No, no, it is impossible,” he added in Russian with a writhe. “No, no!”

“But why not?” asked the Grandmother, turning round. “Show me what I ought to do.”

Instantly De Griers burst into a babble of French as he advised, jumped about, declared that such and such chances ought to be waited for, and started to make calculations of figures. All this he addressed to me in my capacity as translator—tapping the table the while with his finger, and pointing hither and thither. At length he seized a pencil, and began to reckon sums on paper until he had exhausted the Grandmother’s patience.

“Away with you!” she interrupted. “You talk sheer nonsense, for, though you keep on saying ‘Madame, Madame,’ you haven’t the least notion what ought to be done. Away with you, I say!”

“Mais, Madame,” cooed De Griers—and straightway started afresh with his fussy instructions.

“Stake just ONCE, as he advises,” the Grandmother said to me, “and then we shall see what we shall see. Of course, his stake MIGHT win.”

As a matter of fact, De Grier’s one object was to distract the old lady from staking large sums; wherefore, he now suggested to her that she should stake upon certain numbers, singly and in groups. Consequently, in accordance with his instructions, I staked a ten-gulden piece upon several odd numbers in the first twenty, and five ten-gulden pieces upon certain groups of numbers-groups of from twelve to eighteen, and from eighteen to twenty-four. The total staked amounted to 160 gulden.

The wheel revolved. “Zero!” cried the croupier.

We had lost it all!

“The fool!” cried the old lady as she turned upon De Griers. “You infernal Frenchman, to think that you should advise! Away with you! Though you fuss and fuss, you don’t even know what you’re talking about.”

Deeply offended, De Griers shrugged his shoulders, favoured the Grandmother with a look of contempt, and departed. For some time past he had been feeling ashamed of being seen in such company, and this had proved the last straw.

An hour later we had lost everything in hand.

“Home!” cried the Grandmother.

Not until we had turned into the Avenue did she utter a word; but from that point onwards, until we arrived at the hotel, she kept venting exclamations of “What a fool I am! What a silly old fool I am, to be sure!”

Arrived at the hotel, she called for tea, and then gave orders for her luggage to be packed.

“We are off again,” she announced.

“But whither, Madame?” inquired Martha.

“What business is that of YOURS? Let the cricket stick to its hearth. [The Russian form of “Mind your own business.”] Potapitch, have everything packed, for we are returning to Moscow at once. I have fooled away fifteen thousand roubles.”

“Fifteen thousand roubles, good mistress? My God!” And Potapitch spat upon his hands—probably to show that he was ready to serve her in any way he could.

“Now then, you fool! At once you begin with your weeping and wailing! Be quiet, and pack. Also, run downstairs, and get my hotel bill.”

“The next train leaves at 9:30, Madame,” I interposed, with a view to checking her agitation.

“And what is the time now?”

“Half-past eight.”

“How vexing! But, never mind. Alexis Ivanovitch, I have not a kopeck left; I have but these two bank notes. Please run to the office and get them changed. Otherwise I shall have nothing to travel with.”

Departing on her errand, I returned half an hour later to find the whole party gathered in her rooms. It appeared that the news of her impending departure for Moscow had thrown the conspirators into consternation even greater than her losses had done. For, said they, even if her departure should save her fortune, what will become of the General later? And who is to repay De Griers? Clearly Mlle. Blanche would never consent to wait until the Grandmother was dead, but would at once elope with the Prince or someone else. So they had all gathered together—endeavouring to calm and dissuade the Grandmother. Only Polina was absent. For her pad the Grandmother had nothing for the party but abuse.

“Away with you, you rascals!” she was shouting. “What have my affairs to do with you? Why, in particular, do you”—here she indicated De Griers—“come sneaking here with your goat’s beard? And what do YOU”—here she turned to Mlle. Blanche “want of me? What are YOU finicking for?”

“Diantre!” muttered Mlle. under her breath, but her eyes were flashing. Then all at once she burst into a laugh and left the room—crying to the General as she did so: “Elle vivra cent ans!”

“So you have been counting upon my death, have you?” fumed the old lady. “Away with you! Clear them out of the room, Alexis Ivanovitch. What business is it of THEIRS? It is not THEIR money that I have been squandering, but my own.”

The General shrugged his shoulders, bowed, and withdrew, with De Griers behind him.

“Call Prascovia,” commanded the Grandmother, and in five minutes Martha reappeared with Polina, who had been sitting with the children in her own room (having purposely determined not to leave it that day). Her face looked grave and careworn.

“Prascovia,” began the Grandmother, “is what I have just heard through a side wind true—namely, that this fool of a stepfather of yours is going to marry that silly whirligig of a Frenchwoman—that actress, or something worse? Tell me, is it true?”

“I do not know FOR CERTAIN, Grandmamma,” replied Polina; “but from Mlle. Blanche’s account (for she does not appear to think it necessary to conceal anything) I conclude that—”

“You need not say any more,” interrupted the Grandmother energetically. “I understand the situation. I always thought we should get something like this from him, for I always looked upon him as a futile, frivolous fellow who gave himself unconscionable airs on the fact of his being a general (though he only became one because he retired as a colonel). Yes, I know all about the sending of the telegrams to inquire whether ‘the old woman is likely to turn up her toes soon.’ Ah, they were looking for the legacies! Without money that wretched woman (what is her name?—Oh, De Cominges) would never dream of accepting the General and his false teeth—no, not even for him to be her lacquey—since she herself, they say, possesses a pile of money, and lends it on interest, and makes a good thing out of it. However, it is not you, Prascovia, that I am blaming; it was not you who sent those telegrams. Nor, for that matter, do I wish to recall old scores. True, I know that you are a vixen by nature—that you are a wasp which will sting one if one touches it— yet, my heart is sore for you, for I loved your mother, Katerina. Now, will you leave everything here, and come away with me? Otherwise, I do not know what is to become of you, and it is not right that you should continue living with these people. Nay,” she interposed, the moment that Polina attempted to speak, “I have not yet finished. I ask of you nothing in return. My house in Moscow is, as you know, large enough for a palace, and you could occupy a whole floor of it if you liked, and keep away from me for weeks together. Will you come with me or will you not?”

“First of all, let me ask of YOU,” replied Polina, “whether you are intending to depart at once?”

“What? You suppose me to be jesting? I have said that I am going, and I AM going. Today I have squandered fifteen thousand roubles at that accursed roulette of yours, and though, five years ago, I promised the people of a certain suburb of Moscow to build them a stone church in place of a wooden one, I have been fooling away my money here! However, I am going back now to build my church.”

“But what about the waters, Grandmamma? Surely you came here to take the waters?”

“You and your waters! Do not anger me, Prascovia. Surely you are trying to? Say, then: will you, or will you not, come with me?”

“Grandmamma,” Polina replied with deep feeling, “I am very, very grateful to you for the shelter which you have so kindly offered me. Also, to a certain extent you have guessed my position aright, and I am beholden to you to such an extent that it may be that I will come and live with you, and that very soon; yet there are important reasons why—why I cannot make up my min,d just yet. If you would let me have, say, a couple of weeks to decide in—?”

“You mean that you are NOT coming?”

“I mean only that I cannot come just yet. At all events, I could not well leave my little brother and sister here, since,since—if I were to leave them—they would be abandoned altogether. But if, Grandmamma, you would take the little ones AND myself, then, of course, I could come with you, and would do all I could to serve you” (this she said with great earnestness). “Only, without the little ones I CANNOT come.”

“Do not make a fuss” (as a matter of fact Polina never at any time either fussed or wept). “The Great Foster—Father [Translated literally—The Great Poulterer] can find for all his chicks a place. You are not coming without the children? But see here, Prascovia. I wish you well, and nothing but well: yet I have divined the reason why you will not come. Yes, I know all, Prascovia. That Frenchman will never bring you good of any sort.”

Polina coloured hotly, and even I started. “For,” thought I to myself, “every one seems to know about that affair. Or perhaps I am the only one who does not know about it? “

“Now, now! Do not frown,” continued the Grandmother. “But I do not intend to slur things over. You will take care that no harm befalls you, will you not? For you are a girl of sense, and I am sorry for you—I regard you in a different light to the rest of them. And now, please, leave me. Good-bye.”

“But let me stay with you a little longer,” said Polina.

“No,” replied the other; “you need not. Do not bother me, for you and all of them have tired me out.”

Yet when Polina tried to kiss the Grandmother’s hand, the old lady withdrew it, and herself kissed the girl on the cheek. As she passed me, Polina gave me a momentary glance, and then as swiftly averted her eyes.

“And good-bye to you, also, Alexis Ivanovitch. The train starts in an hour’s time, and I think that you must be weary of me. Take these five hundred gulden for yourself.”

“I thank you humbly, Madame, but I am ashamed to—”

“Come, come!” cried the Grandmother so energetically, and with such an air of menace, that I did not dare refuse the money further.

“If, when in Moscow, you have no place where you can lay your head,” she added, “come and see me, and I will give you a recommendation. Now, Potapitch, get things ready.”

I ascended to my room, and lay down upon the bed. A whole hour I must have lain thus, with my head resting upon my hand. So the crisis had come! I needed time for its consideration. To- morrow I would have a talk with Polina. Ah! The Frenchman! So, it was true? But how could it be so? Polina and De Griers! What a combination!

No, it was too improbable. Suddenly I leapt up with the idea of seeking Astley and forcing him to speak. There could be no doubt that he knew more than I did. Astley? Well, he was another problem for me to solve.

Suddenly there came a knock at the door, and I opened it to find Potapitch awaiting me.

“Sir,” he said, “my mistress is asking for you.”

“Indeed? But she is just departing, is she not? The train leaves in ten minutes’ time.”

“She is uneasy, sir; she cannot rest. Come quickly, sir; do not delay.”

I ran downstairs at once. The Grandmother was just being carried out of her rooms into the corridor. In her hands she held a roll of bank-notes.

“Alexis Ivanovitch,” she cried, “walk on ahead, and we will set out again.”

“But whither, Madame?”

“I cannot rest until I have retrieved my losses. March on ahead, and ask me no questions. Play continues until midnight, does it not?”

For a moment I stood stupefied—stood deep in thought; but it was not long before I had made up my mind.

“With your leave, Madame,” I said, “I will not go with you.”

“And why not? What do you mean? Is every one here a stupid good-for-nothing?”

“Pardon me, but I have nothing to reproach myself with. I merely will not go. I merely intend neither to witness nor to join in your play. I also beg to return you your five hundred gulden. Farewell.”

Laying the money upon a little table which the Grandmother’s chair happened to be passing, I bowed and withdrew.

“What folly!” the Grandmother shouted after me. “Very well, then. Do not come, and I will find my way alone. Potapitch, you must come with me. Lift up the chair, and carry me along.”

I failed to find Mr. Astley, and returned home. It was now growing late—it was past midnight, but I subsequently learnt from Potapitch how the Grandmother’s day had ended. She had lost all the money which, earlier in the day, I had got for her paper securities—a sum amounting to about ten thousand roubles. This she did under the direction of the Pole whom, that afternoon, she had dowered with two ten-gulden pieces. But before his arrival on the scene, she had commanded Potapitch to stake for her; until at length she had told him also to go about his business. Upon that the Pole had leapt into the breach. Not only did it happen that he knew the Russian language, but also he could speak a mixture of three different dialects, so that the pair were able to understand one another. Yet the old lady never ceased to abuse him, despite his deferential manner, and to compare him unfavourably with myself (so, at all events, Potapitch declared). “You,” the old chamberlain said to me, “treated her as a gentleman should, but he—he robbed her right and left, as I could see with my own eyes. Twice she caught him at it, and rated him soundly. On one occasion she even pulled his hair, so that the bystanders burst out laughing. Yet she lost everything, sir—that is to say, she lost all that you had changed for her. Then we brought her home, and, after asking for some water and saying her prayers, she went to bed. So worn out was she that she fell asleep at once. May God send her dreams of angels! And this is all that foreign travel has done for us! Oh, my own Moscow! For what have we not at home there, in Moscow? Such a garden and flowers as you could never see here, and fresh air and apple-trees coming into blossom,—and a beautiful view to look upon. Ah, but what must she do but go travelling abroad? Alack, alack!”


Almost a month has passed since I last touched these notes— notes which I began under the influence of impressions at once poignant and disordered. The crisis which I then felt to be approaching has now arrived, but in a form a hundred times more extensive and unexpected than I had looked for. To me it all seems strange, uncouth, and tragic. Certain occurrences have befallen me which border upon the marvellous. At all events, that is how I view them. I view them so in one regard at least. I refer to the whirlpool of events in which, at the time, I was revolving. But the most curious feature of all is my relation to those events, for hitherto I had never clearly understood myself. Yet now the actual crisis has passed away like a dream. Even my passion for Polina is dead. Was it ever so strong and genuine as I thought? If so, what has become of it now? At times I fancy that I must be mad; that somewhere I am sitting in a madhouse; that these events have merely SEEMED to happen; that still they merely SEEM to be happening.

I have been arranging and re-perusing my notes (perhaps for the purpose of convincing myself that I am not in a madhouse). At present I am lonely and alone. Autumn is coming—already it is mellowing the leaves; and, as I sit brooding in this melancholy little town (and how melancholy the little towns of Germany can be!), I find myself taking no thought for the future, but living under the influence of passing moods, and of my recollections of the tempest which recently drew me into its vortex, and then cast me out again. At times I seem still seem to be caught within that vortex. At times, the tempest seems once more to be gathering, and, as it passes overhead, to be wrapping me in its folds, until I have lost my sense of order and reality, and continue whirling and whirling and whirling around.

Yet, it may be that I shall be able to stop myself from revolving if once I can succeed in rendering myself an exact account of what has happened within the month just past. Somehow I feel drawn towards the pen; on many and many an evening I have had nothing else in the world to do. But, curiously enough, of late I have taken to amusing myself with the works of M. Paul de Kock, which I read in German translations obtained from a wretched local library. These works I cannot abide, yet I read them, and find myself marvelling that I should be doing so. Somehow I seem to be afraid of any SERIOUS book—afraid of permitting any SERIOUS preoccupation to break the spell of the passing moment. So dear to me is the formless dream of which I have spoken, so dear to me are the impressions which it has left behind it, that I fear to touch the vision with anything new, lest it should dissolve in smoke. But is it so dear to me? Yes, it IS dear to me, and will ever be fresh in my recollections—even forty years hence… .

So let me write of it, but only partially, and in a more abridged form than my full impressions might warrant.

First of all, let me conclude the history of the Grandmother. Next day she lost every gulden that she possessed. Things were bound to happen so, for persons of her type who have once entered upon that road descend it with ever-increasing rapidity, even as a sledge descends a toboggan-slide. All day until eight o’clock that evening did she play; and, though I personally did not witness her exploits, I learnt of them later through report.

All that day Potapitch remained in attendance upon her; but the Poles who directed her play she changed more than once. As a beginning she dismissed her Pole of the previous day—the Pole whose hair she had pulled—and took to herself another one; but the latter proved worse even than the former, and incurred dismissal in favour of the first Pole, who, during the time of his unemployment, had nevertheless hovered around the Grandmother’s chair, and from time to time obtruded his head over her shoulder. At length the old lady became desperate, for the second Pole, when dismissed, imitated his predecessor by declining to go away; with the result that one Pole remained standing on the right of the victim, and the other on her left; from which vantage points the pair quarrelled, abused each other concerning the stakes and rounds, and exchanged the epithet “laidak ” [Rascal] and other Polish terms of endearment. Finally, they effected a mutual reconciliation, and, tossing the money about anyhow, played simply at random. Once more quarrelling, each of them staked money on his own side of the Grandmother’s chair (for instance, the one Pole staked upon the red, and the other one upon the black), until they had so confused and browbeaten the old lady that, nearly weeping, she was forced to appeal to the head croupier for protection, and to have the two Poles expelled. No time was lost in this being done, despite the rascals’ cries and protestations that the old lady was in their debt, that she had cheated them, and that her general behaviour had been mean and dishonourable. The same evening the unfortunate Potapitch related the story to me with tears complaining that the two men had filled their pockets with money (he himself had seen them do it) which had been shamelesslly pilfered from his mistress. For instance, one Pole demanded of the Grandmother fifty gulden for his trouble, and then staked the money by the side of her stake. She happened to win; whereupon he cried out that the winning stake was his, and hers the loser. As soon as the two Poles had been expelled, Potapitch left the room, and reported to the authorities that the men’s pockets were full of gold; and, on the Grandmother also requesting the head croupier to look into the affair, the police made their appearance, and, despite the protests of the Poles (who, indeed, had been caught redhanded), their pockets were turned inside out, and the contents handed over to the Grandmother. In fact, in, view of the circumstance that she lost all day, the croupiers and other authorities of the Casino showed her every attention; and on her fame spreading through the town, visitors of every nationality—even the most knowing of them, the most distinguished—crowded to get a glimpse of “la vieille comtesse russe, tombee en enfance,” who had lost “so many millions.”

Yet with the money which the authorities restored to her from the pockets of the Poles the Grandmother effected very, very little, for there soon arrived to take his countrymen’s place, a third Pole—a man who could speak Russian fluently, was dressed like a gentleman (albeit in lacqueyish fashion), and sported a huge moustache. Though polite enough to the old lady, he took a high hand with the bystanders. In short, he offered himself less as a servant than as an ENTERTAINER. After each round he would turn to the old lady, and swear terrible oaths to the effect that he was a “Polish gentleman of honour” who would scorn to take a kopeck of her money; and, though he repeated these oaths so often that at length she grew alarmed, he had her play in hand, and began to win on her behalf; wherefore, she felt that she could not well get rid of him. An hour later the two Poles who, earlier in the day, had been expelled from the Casino, made a reappearance behind the old lady’s chair, and renewed their offers of service—even if it were only to be sent on messages; but from Potapitch I subsequently had it that between these rascals and the said “gentleman of honour” there passed a wink, as well as that the latter put something into their hands. Next, since the Grandmother had not yet lunched—she had scarcely for a moment left her chair—one of the two Poles ran to the restaurant of the Casino, and brought her thence a cup of soup, and afterwards some tea. In fact, BOTH the Poles hastened to perform this office. Finally, towards the close of the day, when it was clear that the Grandmother was about to play her last bank-note, there could be seen standing behind her chair no fewer than six natives of Poland—persons who, as yet, had been neither audible nor visible; and as soon as ever the old lady played the note in question, they took no further notice of her, but pushed their way past her chair to the table; seized the money, and staked it—shouting and disputing the while, and arguing with the “gentleman of honour” (who also had forgotten the Grandmother’s existence), as though he were their equal. Even when the Grandmother had lost her all, and was returning (about eight o’clock) to the hotel, some three or four Poles could not bring themselves to leave her, but went on running beside her chair and volubly protesting that the Grandmother had cheated them, and that she ought to be made to surrender what was not her own. Thus the party arrived at the hotel; whence, presently, the gang of rascals was ejected neck and crop.

According to Potapitch’s calculations, the Grandmother lost, that day, a total of ninety thousand roubles, in addition to the money which she had lost the day before. Every paper security which she had brought with her—five percent bonds, internal loan scrip, and what not—she had changed into cash. Also, I could not but marvel at the way in which, for seven or eight hours at a stretch, she sat in that chair of hers, almost never leaving the table. Again, Potapitch told me that there were three occasions on which she really began to win; but that, led on by false hopes, she was unable to tear herself away at the right moment. Every gambler knows how a person may sit a day and a night at cards without ever casting a glance to right or to left.

Meanwhile, that day some other very important events were passing in our hotel. As early as eleven o’clock—that is to say, before the Grandmother had quitted her rooms—the General and De Griers decided upon their last stroke. In other words, on learning that the old lady had changed her mind about departing, and was bent on setting out for the Casino again, the whole of our gang (Polina only excepted) proceeded en masse to her rooms, for the purpose of finally and frankly treating with her. But the General, quaking and greatly apprehensive as to his possible future, overdid things. After half an hour’s prayers and entreaties, coupled With a full confession of his debts, and even of his passion for Mlle. Blanche (yes, he had quite lost his head), he suddenly adopted a tone of menace, and started to rage at the old lady—exclaiming that she was sullying the family honour, that she was making a public scandal of herself, and that she was smirching the fair name of Russia. The upshot was that the Grandmother turned him out of the room with her stick (it was a real stick, too!). Later in the morning he held several consultations with De Griers—the question which occupied him being: Is it in any way possible to make use of the police—to tell them that “this respected, but unfortunate, old lady has gone out of her mind, and is squandering her last kopeck,” or something of the kind? In short, is it in any way possible to engineer a species of supervision over, or of restraint upon, the old lady? De Griers, however, shrugged his shoulders at this, and laughed in the General’s face, while the old warrior went on chattering volubly, and running up and down his study. Finally De Griers waved his hand, and disappeared from view; and by evening it became known that he had left the hotel, after holding a very secret and important conference with Mlle. Blanche. As for the latter, from early morning she had taken decisive measures, by completely excluding the General from her presence, and bestowing upon him not a glance. Indeed, even when the General pursued her to the Casino, and met her walking arm in arm with the Prince, he (the General) received from her and her mother not the slightest recognition. Nor did the Prince himself bow. The rest of the day Mlle. spent in probing the Prince, and trying to make him declare himself; but in this she made a woeful mistake. The little incident occurred in the evening. Suddenly Mlle. Blanche realised that the Prince had not even a copper to his name, but, on the contrary, was minded to borrow of her money wherewith to play at roulette. In high displeasure she drove him from her presence, and shut herself up in her room.

The same morning I went to see—or, rather, to look for—Mr. Astley, but was unsuccessful in my quest. Neither in his rooms nor in the Casino nor in the Park was he to be found; nor did he, that day, lunch at his hotel as usual. However, at about five o’clock I caught sight of him walking from the railway station to the Hotel d’Angleterre. He seemed to be in a great hurry and much preoccupied, though in his face I could discern no actual traces of worry or perturbation. He held out to me a friendly hand, with his usual ejaculation of ” Ah! ” but did not check his stride. I turned and walked beside him, but found, somehow, that his answers forbade any putting of definite questions. Moreover, I felt reluctant to speak to him of Polina; nor, for his part, did he ask me any questions concerning her, although, on my telling him of the Grandmother’s exploits, he listened attentively and gravely, and then shrugged his shoulders.

“She is gambling away everything that she has,” I remarked.

“Indeed? She arrived at the Casino even before I had taken my departure by train, so I knew she had been playing. If I should have time I will go to the Casino to-night, and take a look at her. The thing interests me.”

“Where have you been today?” I asked—surprised at myself for having, as yet, omitted to put to him that question.

“To Frankfort.”

“On business?”

“On business.”

What more was there to be asked after that? I accompanied him until, as we drew level with the Hotel des Quatre Saisons, he suddenly nodded to me and disappeared. For myself, I returned home, and came to the conclusion that, even had I met him at two o’clock in the afternoon, I should have learnt no more from him than I had done at five o’clock, for the reason that I had no definite question to ask. It was bound to have been so. For me to formulate the query which I really wished to put was a simple impossibility.

Polina spent the whole of that day either in walking about the park with the nurse and children or in sitting in her own room. For a long while past she had avoided the General and had scarcely had a word to say to him (scarcely a word, I mean, on any SERIOUS topic). Yes, that I had noticed. Still, even though I was aware of the position in which the General was placed, it had never occurred to me that he would have any reason to avoid HER, or to trouble her with family explanations. Indeed, when I was returning to the hotel after my conversation with Astley, and chanced to meet Polina and the children, I could see that her face was as calm as though the family disturbances had never touched her. To my salute she responded with a slight bow, and I retired to my room in a very bad humour.

Of course, since the affair with the Burmergelms I had exchanged not a word with Polina, nor had with her any kind of intercourse. Yet I had been at my wits’ end, for, as time went on, there was arising in me an ever-seething dissatisfaction. Even if she did not love me she ought not to have trampled upon my feelings, nor to have accepted my confessions with such contempt, seeing that she must have been aware that I loved her (of her own accord she had allowed me to tell her as much). Of course the situation between us had arisen in a curious manner. About two months ago, I had noticed that she had a desire to make me her friend, her confidant—that she was making trial of me for the purpose; but, for some reason or another, the desired result had never come about, and we had fallen into the present strange relations, which had led me to address her as I had done. At the same time, if my love was distasteful to her, why had she not FORBIDDEN me to speak of it to her?

But she had not so forbidden me. On the contrary, there had been occasions when she had even INVITED me to speak. Of course, this might have been done out of sheer wantonness, for I well knew—I had remarked it only too often—that, after listening to what I had to say, and angering me almost beyond endurance, she loved suddenly to torture me with some fresh outburst of contempt and aloofness! Yet she must have known that I could not live without her. Three days had elapsed since the affair with the Baron, and I could bear the severance no longer. When, that afternoon, I met her near the Casino, my heart almost made me faint, it beat so violently. She too could not live without me, for had she not said that she had NEED of me? Or had that too been spoken in jest?

That she had a secret of some kind there could be no doubt. What she had said to the Grandmother had stabbed me to the heart. On a thousand occasions I had challenged her to be open with me, nor could she have been ignorant that I was ready to give my very life for her. Yet always she had kept me at a distance with that contemptuous air of hers; or else she had demanded of me, in lieu of the life which I offered to lay at her feet, such escapades as I had perpetrated with the Baron. Ah, was it not torture to me, all this? For could it be that her whole world was bound up with the Frenchman? What, too, about Mr. Astley? The affair was inexplicable throughout. My God, what distress it caused me!

Arrived home, I, in a fit of frenzy, indited the following:

“Polina Alexandrovna, I can see that there is approaching us an exposure which will involve you too. For the last time I ask of you—have you, or have you not, any need of my life? If you have, then make such dispositions as you wish, and I shall always be discoverable in my room if required. If you have need of my life, write or send for me.”

I sealed the letter, and dispatched it by the hand of a corridor lacquey, with orders to hand it to the addressee in person. Though I expected no answer, scarcely three minutes had elapsed before the lacquey returned with “the compliments of a certain person.”

Next, about seven o’clock, I was sent for by the General. I found him in his study, apparently preparing to go out again, for his hat and stick were lying on the sofa. When I entered he was standing in the middle of the room—his feet wide apart, and his head bent down. Also, he appeared to be talking to himself. But as soon as ever he saw me at the door he came towards me in such a curious manner that involuntarily I retreated a step, and was for leaving the room; whereupon he seized me by both hands, and, drawing me towards the sofa, and seating himself thereon, he forced me to sit down on a chair opposite him. Then, without letting go of my hands, he exclaimed with quivering lips and a sparkle of tears on his eyelashes:

“Oh, Alexis Ivanovitch! Save me, save me! Have some mercy upon me!”

For a long time I could not make out what he meant, although he kept talking and talking, and constantly repeating to himself, “Have mercy, mercy!” At length, however, I divined that he was expecting me to give him something in the nature of advice—or, rather, that, deserted by every one, and overwhelmed with grief and apprehension, he had bethought himself of my existence, and sent for me to relieve his feelings by talking and talking and talking.

In fact, he was in such a confused and despondent state of mind that, clasping his hands together, he actually went down upon his knees and begged me to go to Mlle. Blanche, and beseech and advise her to return to him, and to accept him in marriage.

“But, General,” I exclaimed, “possibly Mlle. Blanche has scarcely even remarked my existence? What could I do with her?”

It was in vain that I protested, for he could understand nothing that was said to him, Next he started talking about the Grandmother, but always in a disconnected sort of fashion—his one thought being to send for the police.

“In Russia,” said he, suddenly boiling over with indignation, “or in any well-ordered State where there exists a government, old women like my mother are placed under proper guardianship. Yes, my good sir,” he went on, relapsing into a scolding tone as he leapt to his feet and started to pace the room, “do you not know this ” (he seemed to be addressing some imaginary auditor in the corner) “—do you not know this, that in Russia old women like her are subjected to restraint, the devil take them?” Again he threw himself down upon the sofa.

A minute later, though sobbing and almost breathless, he managed to gasp out that Mlle. Blanche had refused to marry him, for the reason that the Grandmother had turned up in place of a telegram, and it was therefore clear that he had no inheritance to look for. Evidently, he supposed that I had hitherto been in entire ignorance of all this. Again, when I referred to De Griers, the General made a gesture of despair. “He has gone away,” he said, “and everything which I possess is mortgaged to him. I stand stripped to my skin. Even of the money which you brought me from Paris, I know not if seven hundred francs be left. Of course that sum will do to go on with, but, as regards the future, I know nothing, I know nothing.”

“Then how will you pay your hotel bill?” I cried in consternation. “And what shall you do afterwards?”

He looked at me vaguely, but it was clear that he had not understood—perhaps had not even heard—my questions. Then I tried to get him to speak of Polina and the children, but he only returned brief answers of ” Yes, yes,” and again started to maunder about the Prince, and the likelihood of the latter marrying Mlle. Blanche. “What on earth am I to do?” he concluded. “What on earth am I to do? Is this not ingratitude? Is it not sheer ingratitude?” And he burst into tears.

Nothing could be done with such a man. Yet to leave him alone was dangerous, for something might happen to him. I withdrew from his rooms for a little while, but warned the nursemaid to keep an eye upon him, as well as exchanged a word with the corridor lacquey (a very talkative fellow), who likewise promised to remain on the look-out.

Hardly had I left the General, when Potapitch approached me with a summons from the Grandmother. It was now eight o’clock, and she had returned from the Casino after finally losing all that she possessed. I found her sitting in her chair—much distressed and evidently fatigued. Presently Martha brought her up a cup of tea and forced her to drink it; yet, even then I could detect in the old lady’s tone and manner a great change.

“Good evening, Alexis Ivanovitch,” she said slowly, with her head drooping. “Pardon me for disturbing you again. Yes, you must pardon an old, old woman like myself, for I have left behind me all that I possess—nearly a hundred thousand roubles! You did quite right in declining to come with me this evening. Now I am without money—without a single groat. But I must not delay a moment; I must leave by the 9:30 train. I have sent for that English friend of yours, and am going to beg of him three thousand francs for a week. Please try and persuade him to think nothing of it, nor yet to refuse me, for I am still a rich woman who possesses three villages and a couple of mansions. Yes, the money shall be found, for I have not yet squandered EVERYTHING. I tell you this in order that he may have no doubts about—Ah, but here he is! Clearly he is a good fellow.”

True enough, Astley had come hot-foot on receiving the Grandmother’s appeal. Scarcely stopping even to reflect, and with scarcely a word, he counted out the three thousand francs under a note of hand which she duly signed. Then, his business done, he bowed, and lost no time in taking his departure.

“You too leave me, Alexis Ivanovitch,” said the Grandmother. “All my bones are aching, and I still have an hour in which to rest. Do not be hard upon me, old fool that I am. Never again shall I blame young people for being frivolous. I should think it wrong even to blame that unhappy General of yours. Nevertheless, I do not mean to let him have any of my money (which is all that he desires), for the reason that I look upon him as a perfect blockhead, and consider myself, simpleton though I be, at least wiser than HE is. How surely does God visit old age, and punish it for its presumption! Well, good-bye. Martha, come and lift me up.”

However, I had a mind to see the old lady off; and, moreover, I was in an expectant frame of mind—somehow I kept thinking that SOMETHING was going to happen; wherefore, I could not rest quietly in my room, but stepped out into the corridor, and then into the Chestnut Avenue for a few minutes’ stroll. My letter to Polina had been clear and firm, and in the present crisis, I felt sure, would prove final. I had heard of De Griers’ departure, and, however much Polina might reject me as a FRIEND, she might not reject me altogether as a SERVANT. She would need me to fetch and carry for her, and I was ready to do so. How could it have been otherwise?

Towards the hour of the train’s departure I hastened to the station, and put the Grandmother into her compartment—she and her party occupying a reserved family saloon.

“Thanks for your disinterested assistance,” she said at parting. “Oh, and please remind Prascovia of what I said to her last night. I expect soon to see her.”

Then I returned home. As I was passing the door of the General’s suite, I met the nursemaid, and inquired after her master. “There is nothing new to report, sir,” she replied quietly. Nevertheless I decided to enter, and was just doing so when I halted thunderstruck on the threshold. For before me I beheld the General and Mlle. Blanche—laughing gaily at one another!— while beside them, on the sofa, there was seated her mother. Clearly the General was almost out of his mind with joy, for he was talking all sorts of nonsense, and bubbling over with a long-drawn, nervous laugh—a laugh which twisted his face into innumerable wrinkles, and caused his eyes almost to disappear.

Afterwards I learnt from Mlle. Blanche herself that, after dismissing the Prince and hearing of the General’s tears, she bethought her of going to comfort the old man, and had just arrived for the purpose when I entered. Fortunately, the poor General did not know that his fate had been decided—that Mlle. had long ago packed her trunks in readiness for the first morning train to Paris!

Hesitating a moment on the threshold I changed my mind as to entering, and departed unnoticed. Ascending to my own room, and opening the door, I perceived in the semi-darkness a figure seated on a chair in the corner by the window. The figure did not rise when I entered, so I approached it swiftly, peered at it closely, and felt my heart almost stop beating. The figure was Polina!


The shock made me utter an exclamation.

“What is the matter? What is the matter?” she asked in a strange voice. She was looking pale, and her eyes were dim.

“What is the matter?” I re-echoed. “Why, the fact that you are HERE!”

“If I am here, I have come with all that I have to bring,” she said. “Such has always been my way, as you shall presently see. Please light a candle.”

I did so; whereupon she rose, approached the table, and laid upon it an open letter.

“Read it,” she added.

“It is De Griers’ handwriting!” I cried as I seized the document. My hands were so tremulous that the lines on the pages danced before my eyes. Although, at this distance of time, I have forgotten the exact phraseology of the missive, I append, if not the precise words, at all events the general sense.

“Mademoiselle,” the document ran, “certain untoward circumstances compel me to depart in haste. Of course, you have of yourself remarked that hitherto I have always refrained from having any final explanation with you, for the reason that I could not well state the whole circumstances; and now to my difficulties the advent of the aged Grandmother, coupled with her subsequent proceedings, has put the final touch. Also, the involved state of my affairs forbids me to write with any finality concerning those hopes of ultimate bliss upon which, for a long while past, I have permitted myself to feed. I regret the past, but at the same time hope that in my conduct you have never been able to detect anything that was unworthy of a gentleman and a man of honour. Having lost, however, almost the whole of my money in debts incurred by your stepfather, I find myself driven to the necessity of saving the remainder; wherefore, I have instructed certain friends of mine in St. Petersburg to arrange for the sale of all the property which has been mortgaged to myself. At the same time, knowing that, in addition, your frivolous stepfather has squandered money which is exclusively yours, I have decided to absolve him from a certain moiety of the mortgages on his property, in order that you may be in a position to recover of him what you have lost, by suing him in legal fashion. I trust, therefore, that, as matters now stand, this action of mine may bring you some advantage. I trust also that this same action leaves me in the position of having fulfilled every obligation which is incumbent upon a man of honour and refinement. Rest assured that your memory will for ever remain graven in my heart.”

“All this is clear enough,” I commented. “Surely you did not expect aught else from him?” Somehow I was feeling annoyed.

“I expected nothing at all from him,” she replied—quietly enough, to all outward seeming, yet with a note of irritation in her tone. “Long ago I made up my mind on the subject, for I could read his thoughts, and knew what he was thinking. He thought that possibly I should sue him—that one day I might become a nuisance.” Here Polina halted for a moment, and stood biting her lips. “So of set purpose I redoubled my contemptuous treatment of him, and waited to see what he would do. If a telegram to say that we had become legatees had arrived from, St. Petersburg, I should have flung at him a quittance for my foolish stepfather’s debts, and then dismissed him. For a long time I have hated him. Even in earlier days he was not a man; and now!— Oh, how gladly I could throw those fifty thousand roubles in his face, and spit in it, and then rub the spittle in!”

“But the document returning the fifty-thousand rouble mortgage—has the General got it? If so, possess yourself of it, and send it to De Griers.”

“No, no; the General has not got it.”

“Just as I expected! Well, what is the General going to do?” Then an idea suddenly occurred to me. “What about the Grandmother?” I asked.

Polina looked at me with impatience and bewilderment.

“What makes you speak of HER?” was her irritable inquiry. “I cannot go and live with her. Nor,” she added hotly, “will I go down upon my knees to ANY ONE.”

“Why should you?” I cried. “Yet to think that you should have loved De Griers! The villain, the villain! But I will kill him in a duel. Where is he now?”

“In Frankfort, where he will be staying for the next three days.”

“Well, bid me do so, and I will go to him by the first train tomorrow,” I exclaimed with enthusiasm.

She smiled.

“If you were to do that,” she said, “he would merely tell you to be so good as first to return him the fifty thousand francs. What, then, would be the use of having a quarrel with him? You talk sheer nonsense.”

I ground my teeth.

“The question,” I went on, “is how to raise the fifty thousand francs. We cannot expect to find them lying about on the floor. Listen. What of Mr. Astley?” Even as I spoke a new and strange idea formed itself in my brain.

Her eyes flashed fire.

“What? YOU YOURSELF wish me to leave you for him?” she cried with a scornful look and a proud smile. Never before had she addressed me thus.

Then her head must have turned dizzy with emotion, for suddenly she seated herself upon the sofa, as though she were powerless any longer to stand.

A flash of lightning seemed to strike me as I stood there. I could scarcely believe my eyes or my ears. She DID love me, then! It WAS to me, and not to Mr. Astley, that she had turned! Although she, an unprotected girl, had come to me in my room—in an hotel room—and had probably compromised herself thereby, I had not understood!

Then a second mad idea flashed into my brain.

“Polina,” I said, “give me but an hour. Wait here just one hour until I return. Yes, you MUST do so. Do you not see what I mean? Just stay here for that time.”

And I rushed from the room without so much as answering her look of inquiry. She called something after me, but I did not return.

Sometimes it happens that the most insane thought, the most impossible conception, will become so fixed in one’s head that at length one believes the thought or the conception to be reality. Moreover, if with the thought or the conception there is combined a strong, a passionate, desire, one will come to look upon the said thought or conception as something fated, inevitable, and foreordained—something bound to happen. Whether by this there is connoted something in the nature of a combination of presentiments, or a great effort of will, or a self-annulment of one’s true expectations, and so on, I do not know; but, at all events that night saw happen to me (a night which I shall never forget) something in the nature of the miraculous. Although the occurrence can easily be explained by arithmetic, I still believe it to have been a miracle. Yet why did this conviction take such a hold upon me at the time, and remain with me ever since? Previously, I had thought of the idea, not as an occurrence which was ever likely to come about, but as something which NEVER could come about.

The time was a quarter past eleven o’clock when I entered the Casino in such a state of hope (though, at the same time, of agitation) as I had never before experienced. In the gaming-rooms there were still a large number of people, but not half as many as had been present in the morning.

At eleven o’clock there usually remained behind only the real, the desperate gamblers—persons for whom, at spas, there existed nothing beyond roulette, and who went thither for that alone. These gamesters took little note of what was going on around them, and were interested in none of the appurtenances of the season, but played from morning till night, and would have been ready to play through the night until dawn had that been possible. As it was, they used to disperse unwillingly when, at midnight, roulette came to an end. Likewise, as soon as ever roulette was drawing to a close and the head croupier had called “Les trois derniers coups,” most of them were ready to stake on the last three rounds all that they had in their pockets—and, for the most part, lost it. For my own part I proceeded towards the table at which the Grandmother had lately sat; and, since the crowd around it was not very large, I soon obtained standing room among the ring of gamblers, while directly in front of me, on the green cloth, I saw marked the word “Passe.”

“Passe” was a row of numbers from 19 to 36 inclusive; while a row of numbers from 1 to 18 inclusive was known as “Manque.” But what had that to do with me? I had not noticed—I had not so much as heard the numbers upon which the previous coup had fallen, and so took no bearings when I began to play, as, in my place, any SYSTEMATIC gambler would have done. No, I merely extended my stock of twenty ten-gulden pieces, and threw them down upon the space “Passe” which happened to be confronting me.

“Vingt-deux!” called the croupier.

I had won! I staked upon the same again—both my original stake and my winnings.

“Trente-et-un!” called the croupier.

Again I had won, and was now in possession of eighty ten-gulden pieces. Next, I moved the whole eighty on to twelve middle numbers (a stake which, if successful, would bring me in a triple profit, but also involved a risk of two chances to one). The wheel revolved, and stopped at twenty-four. Upon this I was paid out notes and gold until I had by my side a total sum of two thousand gulden.

It was as in a fever that I moved the pile, en bloc, on to the red. Then suddenly I came to myself (though that was the only time during the evening’s play when fear cast its cold spell over me, and showed itself in a trembling of the hands and knees). For with horror I had realised that I MUST win, and that upon that stake there depended all my life.

“Rouge!” called the croupier. I drew a long breath, and hot shivers went coursing over my body. I was paid out my winnings in bank-notes—amounting, of course, to a total of four thousand florins, eight hundred gulden (I could still calculate the amounts).

After that, I remember, I again staked two thousand florins upon twelve middle numbers, and lost. Again I staked the whole of my gold, with eight hundred gulden, in notes, and lost. Then madness seemed to come upon me, and seizing my last two thousand florins, I staked them upon twelve of the first numbers—wholly by chance, and at random, and without any sort of reckoning. Upon my doing so there followed a moment of suspense only comparable to that which Madame Blanchard must have experienced when, in Paris, she was descending earthwards from a balloon.

“Quatre!” called the croupier.

Once more, with the addition of my original stake, I was in possession of six thousand florins! Once more I looked around me like a conqueror—once more I feared nothing as I threw down four thousand of these florins upon the black. The croupiers glanced around them, and exchanged a few words; the bystanders murmured expectantly.

The black turned up. After that I do not exactly remember either my calculations or the order of my stakings. I only remember that, as in a dream, I won in one round sixteen thousand florins; that in the three following rounds, I lost twelve thousand; that I moved the remainder (four thousand) on to “Passe” (though quite unconscious of what I was doing—I was merely waiting, as it were, mechanically, and without reflection, for something) and won; and that, finally, four times in succession I lost. Yes, I can remember raking in money by thousands—but most frequently on the twelve, middle numbers, to which I constantly adhered, and which kept appearing in a sort of regular order—first, three or four times running, and then, after an interval of a couple of rounds, in another break of three or four appearances. Sometimes, this astonishing regularity manifested itself in patches; a thing to upset all the calculations of note—taking gamblers who play with a pencil and a memorandum book in their hands Fortune perpetrates some terrible jests at roulette!

Since my entry not more than half an hour could have elapsed. Suddenly a croupier informed me that I had, won thirty thousand florins, as well as that, since the latter was the limit for which, at any one time, the bank could make itself responsible, roulette at that table must close for the night. Accordingly, I caught up my pile of gold, stuffed it into my pocket, and, grasping my sheaf of bank-notes, moved to the table in an adjoining salon where a second game of roulette was in progress. The crowd followed me in a body, and cleared a place for me at the table; after which, I proceeded to stake as before—that is to say, at random and without calculating. What saved me from ruin I do not know.

Of course there were times when fragmentary reckonings DID come flashing into my brain. For instance, there were times when I attached myself for a while to certain figures and coups—though always leaving them, again before long, without knowing what I was doing.

In fact, I cannot have been in possession of all my faculties, for I can remember the croupiers correcting my play more than once, owing to my having made mistakes of the gravest order. My brows were damp with sweat, and my hands were shaking. Also, Poles came around me to proffer their services, but I heeded none of them. Nor did my luck fail me now. Suddenly, there arose around me a loud din of talking and laughter. ” Bravo, bravo! ” was the general shout, and some people even clapped their hands. I had raked in thirty thousand florins, and again the bank had had to close for the night!

“Go away now, go away now,” a voice whispered to me on my right. The person who had spoken to me was a certain Jew of Frankfurt—a man who had been standing beside me the whole while, and occasionally helping me in my play.

“Yes, for God’s sake go,” whispered a second voice in my left ear. Glancing around, I perceived that the second voice had come from a modestly, plainly dressed lady of rather less than thirty—a woman whose face, though pale and sickly-looking, bore also very evident traces of former beauty. At the moment, I was stuffing the crumpled bank-notes into my pockets and collecting all the gold that was left on the table. Seizing up my last note for five hundred gulden, I contrived to insinuate it, unperceived, into the hand of the pale lady. An overpowering impulse had made me do so, and I remember how her thin little fingers pressed mine in token of her lively gratitude. The whole affair was the work of a moment.

Then, collecting my belongings, I crossed to where trente et quarante was being played—a game which could boast of a more aristocratic public, and was played with cards instead of with a wheel. At this diversion the bank made itself responsible for a hundred thousand thalers as the limit, but the highest stake allowable was, as in roulette, four thousand florins. Although I knew nothing of the game—and I scarcely knew the stakes, except those on black and red—I joined the ring of players, while the rest of the crowd massed itself around me. At this distance of time I cannot remember whether I ever gave a thought to Polina; I seemed only to be conscious of a vague pleasure in seizing and raking in the bank-notes which kept massing themselves in a pile before me.

But, as ever, fortune seemed to be at my back. As though of set purpose, there came to my aid a circumstance which not infrequently repeats itself in gaming. The circumstance is that not infrequently luck attaches itself to, say, the red, and does not leave it for a space of say, ten, or even fifteen, rounds in succession. Three days ago I had heard that, during the previous week there had been a run of twenty-two coups on the red—an occurrence never before known at roulette— so that men spoke of it with astonishment. Naturally enough, many deserted the red after a dozen rounds, and practically no one could now be found to stake upon it. Yet upon the black also—the antithesis of the red—no experienced gambler would stake anything, for the reason that every practised player knows the meaning of “capricious fortune.” That is to say, after the sixteenth (or so) success of the red, one would think that the seventeenth coup would inevitably fall upon the black; wherefore, novices would be apt to back the latter in the seventeenth round, and even to double or treble their stakes upon it—only, in the end, to lose.

Yet some whim or other led me, on remarking that the red had come up consecutively for seven times, to attach myself to that colour. Probably this was mostly due to self-conceit, for I wanted to astonish the bystanders with the riskiness of my play. Also, I remember that—oh, strange sensation!—I suddenly, and without any challenge from my own presumption, became obsessed with a DESIRE to take risks. If the spirit has passed through a great many sensations, possibly it can no longer be sated with them, but grows more excited, and demands more sensations, and stronger and stronger ones, until at length it falls exhausted. Certainly, if the rules of the game had permitted even of my staking fifty thousand florins at a time, I should have staked them. All of a sudden I heard exclamations arising that the whole thing was a marvel, since the red was turning up for the fourteenth time!

“Monsieur a gagne cent mille florins,” a voice exclaimed beside me.

I awoke to my senses. What? I had won a hundred thousand florins? If so, what more did I need to win? I grasped the banknotes, stuffed them into my pockets, raked in the gold without counting it, and started to leave the Casino. As I passed through the salons people smiled to see my bulging pockets and unsteady gait, for the weight which I was carrying must have amounted to half a pood! Several hands I saw stretched out in my direction, and as I passed I filled them with all the money that I could grasp in my own. At length two Jews stopped me near the exit.

“You are a bold young fellow,” one said, “but mind you depart early tomorrow—as early as you can—for if you do not you will lose everything that you have won.”

But I did not heed them. The Avenue was so dark that it was barely possible to distinguish one’s hand before one’s face, while the distance to the hotel was half a verst or so; but I feared neither pickpockets nor highwaymen. Indeed, never since my boyhood have I done that. Also, I cannot remember what I thought about on the way. I only felt a sort of fearful pleasure —the pleasure of success, of conquest, of power (how can I best express it?). Likewise, before me there flitted the image of Polina; and I kept remembering, and reminding myself, that it was to HER I was going, that it was in HER presence I should soon be standing, that it was SHE to whom I should soon be able to relate and show everything. Scarcely once did I recall what she had lately said to me, or the reason why I had left her, or all those varied sensations which I had been experiencing a bare hour and a half ago. No, those sensations seemed to be things of the past, to be things which had righted themselves and grown old, to be things concerning which we needed to trouble ourselves no longer, since, for us, life was about to begin anew. Yet I had just reached the end of the Avenue when there DID come upon me a fear of being robbed or murdered. With each step the fear increased until, in my terror, I almost started to run. Suddenly, as I issued from the Avenue, there burst upon me the lights of the hotel, sparkling with a myriad lamps! Yes, thanks be to God, I had reached home!

Running up to my room, I flung open the door of it. Polina was still on the sofa, with a lighted candle in front of her, and her hands clasped. As I entered she stared at me in astonishment (for, at the moment, I must have presented a strange spectacle). All I did, however, was to halt before her, and fling upon the table my burden of wealth.


I remember, too, how, without moving from her place, or changing her attitude, she gazed into my face.

“I have won two hundred thousand francs!” cried I as I pulled out my last sheaf of bank-notes. The pile of paper currency occupied the whole table. I could not withdraw my eyes from it. Consequently, for a moment or two Polina escaped my mind. Then I set myself to arrange the pile in order, and to sort the notes, and to mass the gold in a separate heap. That done, I left everything where it lay, and proceeded to pace the room with rapid strides as I lost myself in thought. Then I darted to the table once more, and began to recount the money; until all of a sudden, as though I had remembered something, I rushed to the door, and closed and double-locked it. Finally I came to a meditative halt before my little trunk.

“Shall I put the money there until tomorrow?” I asked, turning sharply round to Polina as the recollection of her returned to me.

She was still in her old place—still making not a sound. Yet her eyes had followed every one of my movements. Somehow in her face there was a strange expression—an expression which I did not like. I think that I shall not be wrong if I say that it indicated sheer hatred.

Impulsively I approached her.

“Polina,” I said, “here are twenty-five thousand florins—fifty thousand francs, or more. Take them, and tomorrow throw them in De Griers’ face.”

She returned no answer.

“Or, if you should prefer,” I continued, “let me take them to him myself tomorrow—yes, early tomorrow morning. Shall I?”

Then all at once she burst out laughing, and laughed for a long while. With astonishment and a feeling of offence I gazed at her. Her laughter was too like the derisive merriment which she had so often indulged in of late—merriment which had broken forth always at the time of my most passionate explanations. At length she ceased, and frowned at me from under her eyebrows.

“I am NOT going to take your money,” she said contemptuously.

“Why not?” I cried. “Why not, Polina?”

“Because I am not in the habit of receiving money for nothing.”

“But I am offering it to you as a FRIEND in the same way I would offer you my very life.”

Upon this she threw me a long, questioning glance, as though she were seeking to probe me to the depths.

“You are giving too much for me,” she remarked with a smile. “The beloved of De Griers is not worth fifty thousand francs.”

“Oh Polina, how can you speak so?” I exclaimed reproachfully. “Am I De Griers?”

“You?” she cried with her eyes suddenly flashing. “Why, I HATE you! Yes, yes, I HATE you! I love you no more than I do De Griers.”

Then she buried her face in her hands, and relapsed into hysterics. I darted to her side. Somehow I had an intuition of something having happened to her which had nothing to do with myself. She was like a person temporarily insane.

“Buy me, would you, would you? Would you buy me for fifty thousand francs as De Griers did?” she gasped between her convulsive sobs.

I clasped her in my arms, kissed her hands and feet, and fell upon my knees before her.

Presently the hysterical fit passed away, and, laying her hands upon my shoulders, she gazed for a while into my face, as though trying to read it—something I said to her, but it was clear that she did not hear it. Her face looked so dark and despondent that I began to fear for her reason. At length she drew me towards herself—a trustful smile playing over her features; and then, as suddenly, she pushed me away again as she eyed me dimly.

Finally she threw herself upon me in an embrace.

“You love me?” she said. “DO you?—you who were willing even to quarrel with the Baron at my bidding?”

Then she laughed—laughed as though something dear, but laughable, had recurred to her memory. Yes, she laughed and wept at the same time. What was I to do? I was like a man in a fever. I remember that she began to say something to me—though WHAT I do not know, since she spoke with a feverish lisp, as though she were trying to tell me something very quickly. At intervals, too, she would break off into the smile which I was beginning to dread. “No, no!” she kept repeating. “YOU are my dear one; YOU are the man I trust.” Again she laid her hands upon my shoulders, and again she gazed at me as she reiterated: “You love me, you love me? Will you ALWAYS love me?” I could not take my eyes off her. Never before had I seen her in this mood of humility and affection. True, the mood was the outcome of hysteria; but—! All of a sudden she noticed my ardent gaze, and smiled slightly. The next moment, for no apparent reason, she began to talk of Astley.

She continued talking and talking about him, but I could not make out all she said—more particularly when she was endeavouring to tell me of something or other which had happened recently. On the whole, she appeared to be laughing at Astley, for she kept repeating that he was waiting for her, and did I know whether, even at that moment, he was not standing beneath the window? “Yes, yes, he is there,” she said. “Open the window, and see if he is not.” She pushed me in that direction; yet, no sooner did I make a movement to obey her behest than she burst into laughter, and I remained beside her, and she embraced me.

“Shall we go away tomorrow?” presently she asked, as though some disturbing thought had recurred to her recollection. “How would it be if we were to try and overtake Grandmamma? I think we should do so at Berlin. And what think you she would have to say to us when we caught her up, and her eyes first lit upon us? What, too, about Mr. Astley? HE would not leap from the Shlangenberg for my sake! No! Of that I am very sure!”—and she laughed. “Do you know where he is going next year? He says he intends to go to the North Pole for scientific investigations, and has invited me to go with him! Ha, ha, ha! He also says that we Russians know nothing, can do nothing, without European help. But he is a good fellow all the same. For instance, he does not blame the General in the matter, but declares that Mlle. Blanche—that love—But no; I do not know, I do not know.” She stopped suddenly, as though she had said her say, and was feeling bewildered. “What poor creatures these people are. How sorry I am for them, and for Grandmamma! But when are you going to kill De Griers? Surely you do not intend actually to murder him? You fool! Do you suppose that I should ALLOW you to fight De Griers? Nor shall you kill the Baron.” Here she burst out laughing. “How absurd you looked when you were talking to the Burmergelms! I was watching you all the time—watching you from where I was sitting. And how unwilling you were to go when I sent you! Oh, how I laughed and laughed!”

Then she kissed and embraced me again; again she pressed her face to mine with tender passion. Yet I neither saw nor heard her, for my head was in a whirl… .

It must have been about seven o’clock in the morning when I awoke. Daylight had come, and Polina was sitting by my side—a strange expression on her face, as though she had seen a vision and was unable to collect her thoughts. She too had just awoken, and was now staring at the money on the table. My head ached; it felt heavy. I attempted to take Polina’s hand, but she pushed me from her, and leapt from the sofa. The dawn was full of mist, for rain had fallen, yet she moved to the window, opened it, and, leaning her elbows upon the window-sill, thrust out her head and shoulders to take the air. In this position did she remain for several minutes, without ever looking round at me, or listening to what I was saying. Into my head there came the uneasy thought: What is to happen now? How is it all to end? Suddenly Polina rose from the window, approached the table, and, looking at me with an expression of infinite aversion, said with lips which quivered with anger:

“Well? Are you going to hand me over my fifty thousand francs?”

“Polina, you say that AGAIN, AGAIN?” I exclaimed.

“You have changed your mind, then? Ha, ha, ha! You are sorry you ever promised them?”

On the table where, the previous night, I had counted the money there still was lying the packet of twenty five thousand florins. I handed it to her.

“The francs are mine, then, are they? They are mine?” she inquired viciously as she balanced the money in her hands.

“Yes; they have ALWAYS been yours,” I said.

“Then TAKE your fifty thousand francs!” and she hurled them full in my face. The packet burst as she did so, and the floor became strewed with bank-notes. The instant that the deed was done she rushed from the room.

At that moment she cannot have been in her right mind; yet, what was the cause of her temporary aberration I cannot say. For a month past she had been unwell. Yet what had brought about this PRESENT condition of mind,above all things, this outburst? Had it come of wounded pride? Had it come of despair over her decision to come to me? Had it come of the fact that, presuming too much on my good fortune, I had seemed to be intending to desert her (even as De Griers had done) when once I had given her the fifty thousand francs? But, on my honour, I had never cherished any such intention. What was at fault, I think, was her own pride, which kept urging her not to trust me, but, rather, to insult me—even though she had not realised the fact. In her eyes I corresponded to De Griers, and therefore had been condemned for a fault not wholly my own. Her mood of late had been a sort of delirium, a sort of light-headedness—that I knew full well; yet, never had I sufficiently taken it into consideration. Perhaps she would not pardon me now? Ah, but this was THE PRESENT. What about the future? Her delirium and sickness were not likely to make her forget what she had done in bringing me De Griers’ letter. No, she must have known what she was doing when she brought it.

Somehow I contrived to stuff the pile of notes and gold under the bed, to cover them over, and then to leave the room some ten minutes after Polina. I felt sure that she had returned to her own room; wherefore, I intended quietly to follow her, and to ask the nursemaid aid who opened the door how her mistress was. Judge, therefore, of my surprise when, meeting the domestic on the stairs, she informed me that Polina had not yet returned, and that she (the domestic) was at that moment on her way to my room in quest of her!

“Mlle. left me but ten minutes ago,” I said. “What can have become of her?” The nursemaid looked at me reproachfully.

Already sundry rumours were flying about the hotel. Both in the office of the commissionaire and in that of the landlord it was whispered that, at seven o’clock that morning, the Fraulein had left the hotel, and set off, despite the rain, in the direction of the Hotel d’Angleterre. From words and hints let fall I could see that the fact of Polina having spent the night in my room was now public property. Also, sundry rumours were circulating concerning the General’s family affairs. It was known that last night he had gone out of his mind, and paraded the hotel in tears; also, that the old lady who had arrived was his mother, and that she had come from Russia on purpose to forbid her son’s marriage with Mlle. de Cominges, as well as to cut him out of her will if he should disobey her; also that, because he had disobeyed her, she had squandered all her money at roulette, in order to have nothing more to leave to him. “Oh, these Russians!” exclaimed the landlord, with an angry toss of the head, while the bystanders laughed and the clerk betook himself to his accounts. Also, every one had learnt about my winnings; Karl, the corridor lacquey, was the first to congratulate me. But with these folk I had nothing to do. My business was to set off at full speed to the Hotel d’Angleterre.

As yet it was early for Mr. Astley to receive visitors; but, as soon as he learnt that it was I who had arrived, he came out into the corridor to meet me, and stood looking at me in silence with his steel-grey eyes as he waited to hear what I had to say. I inquired after Polina.

“She is ill,” he replied, still looking at me with his direct, unwavering glance.

“And she is in your rooms.”

“Yes, she is in my rooms.”

“Then you are minded to keep her there?”

“Yes, I am minded to keep her there.”

“But, Mr. Astley, that will raise a scandal. It ought not to be allowed. Besides, she is very ill. Perhaps you had not remarked that?”

“Yes, I have. It was I who told you about it. Had she not been ill, she would not have gone and spent the night with you.”

“Then you know all about it?”

“Yes; for last night she was to have accompanied me to the house of a relative of mine. Unfortunately, being ill, she made a mistake, and went to your rooms instead.”

“Indeed? Then I wish you joy, Mr. Astley. Apropos, you have reminded me of something. Were you beneath my window last night? Every moment Mlle. Polina kept telling me to open the window and see if you were there; after which she always smiled.”

“Indeed? No, I was not there; but I was waiting in the corridor, and walking about the hotel.”

“She ought to see a doctor, you know, Mr. Astley.”

“Yes, she ought. I have sent for one, and, if she dies, I shall hold you responsible.”

This surprised me.

“Pardon me,” I replied, “but what do you mean?”

“Never mind. Tell me if it is true that, last night, you won two hundred thousand thalers?”

“No; I won a hundred thousand florins.”

“Good heavens! Then I suppose you will be off to Paris this morning?


“Because all Russians who have grown rich go to Paris,” explained Astley, as though he had read the fact in a book.

“But what could I do in Paris in summer time?—I LOVE her, Mr. Astley! Surely you know that?”

“Indeed? I am sure that you do NOT. Moreover, if you were to stay here, you would lose everything that you possess, and have nothing left with which to pay your expenses in Paris. Well, good-bye now. I feel sure that today will see you gone from here.”

“Good-bye. But I am NOT going to Paris. Likewise—pardon me—what is to become of this family? I mean that the affair of the General and Mlle. Polina will soon be all over the town.”

“I daresay; yet, I hardly suppose that that will break the General’s heart. Moreover, Mlle. Polina has a perfect right to live where she chooses. In short, we may say that, as a family, this family has ceased to exist.”

I departed, and found myself smiling at the Englishman’s strange assurance that I should soon be leaving for Paris. “I suppose he means to shoot me in a duel, should Polina die. Yes, that is what he intends to do.” Now, although I was honestly sorry for Polina, it is a fact that, from the moment when, the previous night, I had approached the gaming-table, and begun to rake in the packets of bank-notes, my love for her had entered upon a new plane. Yes, I can say that now; although, at the time, I was barely conscious of it. Was I, then, at heart a gambler? Did I, after all, love Polina not so very much? No, no! As God is my witness, I loved her! Even when I was returning home from Mr. Astley’s my suffering was genuine, and my self-reproach sincere. But presently I was to go through an exceedingly strange and ugly experience.

I was proceeding to the General’s rooms when I heard a door near me open, and a voice call me by name. It was Mlle.‘s mother, the Widow de Cominges who was inviting me, in her daughter’s name, to enter.

I did so; whereupon, I heard a laugh and a little cry proceed from the bedroom (the pair occupied a suite of two apartments), where Mlle. Blanche was just arising.

“Ah, c’est lui! Viens, donc, bete! Is it true that you have won a mountain of gold and silver? J’aimerais mieux l’or.”

“Yes,” I replied with a smile.

“How much?”

“A hundred thousand florins.”

“Bibi, comme tu es bete! Come in here, for I can’t hear you where you are now. Nous ferons bombance, n’est-ce pas?”

Entering her room, I found her lolling under a pink satin coverlet, and revealing a pair of swarthy, wonderfully healthy shoulders—shoulders such as one sees in dreams—shoulders covered over with a white cambric nightgown which, trimmed with lace, stood out, in striking relief, against the darkness of her skin.

“Mon fils, as-tu du coeur?” she cried when she saw me, and then giggled. Her laugh had always been a very cheerful one, and at times it even sounded sincere.

“Tout autre—” I began, paraphrasing Comeille.

“See here,” she prattled on. “Please search for my stockings, and help me to dress. Aussi, si tu n’es pas trop bete je te prends a Paris. I am just off, let me tell you.”

“This moment?”

“In half an hour.”

True enough, everything stood ready-packed—trunks, portmanteaux, and all. Coffee had long been served.

“Eh bien, tu verras Paris. Dis donc, qu’est-ce que c’est qu’un ‘utchitel’? Tu etais bien bete quand tu etais ‘utchitel.’ Where are my stockings? Please help me to dress.”

And she lifted up a really ravishing foot—small, swarthy, and not misshapen like the majority of feet which look dainty only in bottines. I laughed, and started to draw on to the foot a silk stocking, while Mlle. Blanche sat on the edge of the bed and chattered.

“Eh bien, que feras-tu si je te prends avec moi? First of all I must have fifty thousand francs, and you shall give them to me at Frankfurt. Then we will go on to Paris, where we will live together, et je te ferai voir des etoiles en plein jour. Yes, you shall see such women as your eyes have never lit upon.”

“Stop a moment. If I were to give you those fifty thousand francs, what should I have left for myself?”

“Another hundred thousand francs, please to remember. Besides, I could live with you in your rooms for a month, or even for two; or even for longer. But it would not take us more than two months to get through fifty thousand francs; for, look you, je suis bonne enfante, et tu verras des etoiles, you may be sure.”

“What? You mean to say that we should spend the whole in two months?”

“Certainly. Does that surprise you very much? Ah, vil esclave! Why, one month of that life would be better than all your previous existence. One month—et apres, le deluge! Mais tu ne peux comprendre. Va! Away, away! You are not worth it.—Ah, que fais-tu?”

For, while drawing on the other stocking, I had felt constrained to kiss her. Immediately she shrunk back, kicked me in the face with her toes, and turned me neck and prop out of the room.

“Eh bien, mon ‘utchitel’,” she called after me, “je t’attends, si tu veux. I start in a quarter of an hour’s time.”

I returned to my own room with my head in a whirl. It was not my fault that Polina had thrown a packet in my face, and preferred Mr. Astley to myself. A few bank-notes were still fluttering about the floor, and I picked them up. At that moment the door opened, and the landlord appeared—a person who, until now, had never bestowed upon me so much as a glance. He had come to know if I would prefer to move to a lower floor—to a suite which had just been tenanted by Count V.

For a moment I reflected.

“No!” I shouted. “My account, please, for in ten minutes I shall be gone.”

“To Paris, to Paris!” I added to myself. “Every man of birth must make her acquaintance.”

Within a quarter of an hour all three of us were seated in a family compartment—Mlle. Blanche, the Widow de Cominges, and myself. Mlle. kept laughing hysterically as she looked at me, and Madame re-echoed her; but I did not feel so cheerful. My life had broken in two, and yesterday had infected me with a habit of staking my all upon a card. Although it might be that I had failed to win my stake, that I had lost my senses, that I desired nothing better, I felt that the scene was to be changed only FOR A TIME. “Within a month from now,” I kept thinking to myself, “I shall be back again in Roulettenberg; and THEN I mean to have it out with you, Mr. Astley!” Yes, as now I look back at things, I remember that I felt greatly depressed, despite the absurd gigglings of the egregious Blanche.

“What is the matter with you? How dull you are!” she cried at length as she interrupted her laughter to take me seriously to task.

“Come, come! We are going to spend your two hundred thousand francs for you, et tu seras heureux comme un petit roi. I myself will tie your tie for you, and introduce you to Hortense. And when we have spent your money you shall return here, and break the bank again. What did those two Jews tell you?—that the thing most needed is daring, and that you possess it? Consequently, this is not the first time that you will be hurrying to Paris with money in your pocket. Quant … moi, je veux cinquante mille francs de rente, et alors”

“But what about the General?” I interrupted.

“The General? You know well enough that at about this hour every day he goes to buy me a bouquet. On this occasion, I took care to tell him that he must hunt for the choicest of flowers; and when he returns home, the poor fellow will find the bird flown. Possibly he may take wing in pursuit—ha, ha, ha! And if so, I shall not be sorry, for he could be useful to me in Paris, and Mr. Astley will pay his debts here.”

In this manner did I depart for the Gay City.


Of Paris what am I to say? The whole proceeding was a delirium, a madness. I spent a little over three weeks there, and, during that time, saw my hundred thousand francs come to an end. I speak only of the ONE hundred thousand francs, for the other hundred thousand I gave to Mlle. Blanche in pure cash. That is to say, I handed her fifty thousand francs at Frankfurt, and, three days later (in Paris), advanced her another fifty thousand on note of hand. Nevertheless, a week had not elapsed ere she came to me for more money. “Et les cent mille francs qui nous restent,” she added, “tu les mangeras avec moi, mon utchitel.” Yes, she always called me her “utchitel.” A person more economical, grasping, and mean than Mlle. Blanche one could not imagine. But this was only as regards HER OWN money. MY hundred thousand francs (as she explained to me later) she needed to set up her establishment in Paris, “so that once and for all I may be on a decent footing, and proof against any stones which may be thrown at me—at all events for a long time to come.” Nevertheless, I saw nothing of those hundred thousand francs, for my own purse (which she inspected daily) never managed to amass in it more than a hundred francs at a time; and, generally the sum did not reach even that figure.

“What do you want with money?” she would say to me with air of absolute simplicity; and I never disputed the point. Nevertheless, though she fitted out her flat very badly with the money, the fact did not prevent her from saying when, later, she was showing me over the rooms of her new abode: “See what care and taste can do with the most wretched of means!” However, her “wretchedness ” had cost fifty thousand francs, while with the remaining fifty thousand she purchased a carriage and horses.

Also, we gave a couple of balls—evening parties attended by Hortense and Lisette and Cleopatre, who were women remarkable both for the number of their liaisons and (though only in some cases) for their good looks. At these reunions I had to play the part of host—to meet and entertain fat mercantile parvenus who were impossible by reason of their rudeness and braggadocio, colonels of various kinds, hungry authors, and journalistic hacks— all of whom disported themselves in fashionable tailcoats and pale yellow gloves, and displayed such an aggregate of conceit and gasconade as would be unthinkable even in St. Petersburg—which is saying a great deal! They used to try to make fun of me, but I would console myself by drinking champagne and then lolling in a retiring-room. Nevertheless, I found it deadly work. “C’est un utchitel,” Blanche would say of me, “qui a gagne deux cent mille francs, and but for me, would have had not a notion how to spend them. Presently he will have to return to his tutoring. Does any one know of a vacant post? You know, one must do something for him.”

I had the more frequent recourse to champagne in that I constantly felt depressed and bored, owing to the fact that I was living in the most bourgeois commercial milieu imaginable—a milieu wherein every sou was counted and grudged. Indeed, two weeks had not elapsed before I perceived that Blanche had no real affection for me, even though she dressed me in elegant clothes, and herself tied my tie each day. In short, she utterly despised me. But that caused me no concern. Blase and inert, I spent my evenings generally at the Chateau des Fleurs, where I would get fuddled and then dance the cancan (which, in that establishment, was a very indecent performance) with eclat. At length, the time came when Blanche had drained my purse dry. She had conceived an idea that, during the term of our residence together, it would be well if I were always to walk behind her with a paper and pencil, in order to jot down exactly what she spent, what she had saved, what she was paying out, and what she was laying by. Well, of course I could not fail to be aware that this would entail a battle over every ten francs; so, although for every possible objection that I might make she had prepared a suitable answer, she soon saw that I made no objections, and therefore, had to start disputes herself. That is to say, she would burst out into tirades which were met only with silence as I lolled on a sofa and stared fixedly at the ceiling. This greatly surprised her. At first she imagined that it was due merely to the fact that I was a fool, “un utchitel”; wherefore she would break off her harangue in the belief that, being too stupid to understand, I was a hopeless case. Then she would leave the room, but return ten minutes later to resume the contest. This continued throughout her squandering of my money—a squandering altogether out of proportion to our means. An example is the way in which she changed her first pair of horses for a pair which cost sixteen thousand francs.

“Bibi,” she said on the latter occasion as she approached me, “surely you are not angry?”

“No-o-o: I am merely tired,” was my reply as I pushed her from me. This seemed to her so curious that straightway she seated herself by my side.

“You see,” she went on, “I decided to spend so much upon these horses only because I can easily sell them again. They would go at any time for TWENTY thousand francs.”

“Yes, yes. They are splendid horses, and you have got a splendid turn-out. I am quite content. Let me hear no more of the matter.”

“Then you are not angry?”

“No. Why should I be? You are wise to provide yourself with what you need, for it will all come in handy in the future. Yes, I quite see the necessity of your establishing yourself on a good basis, for without it you will never earn your million. My hundred thousand francs I look upon merely as a beginning—as a mere drop in the bucket.”

Blanche, who had by no means expected such declarations from me, but, rather, an uproar and protests, was rather taken aback.

“Well, well, what a man you are! ” she exclaimed. ” Mais tu as l’esprit pour comprendre. Sais-tu, mon garcon, although you are a tutor, you ought to have been born a prince. Are you not sorry that your money should be going so quickly?”

“No. The quicker it goes the better.”

“Mais—sais-tu-mais dis donc, are you really rich? Mais sais-tu, you have too much contempt for money. Qu’est-ce que tu feras apres, dis donc?”

“Apres I shall go to Homburg, and win another hundred thousand francs.”

“Oui, oui, c’est ca, c’est magnifique! Ah, I know you will win them, and bring them to me when you have done so. Dis donc—you will end by making me love you. Since you are what you are, I mean to love you all the time, and never to be unfaithful to you. You see, I have not loved you before parce que je croyais que tu n’es qu’un utchitel (quelque chose comme un lacquais, n’est-ce pas?) Yet all the time I have been true to you, parce que je suis bonne fille.”

“You lie!” I interrupted. “Did I not see you, the other day, with Albert—with that black-jowled officer?”

“Oh, oh! Mais tu es—”

“Yes, you are lying right enough. But what makes you suppose that I should be angry? Rubbish! Il faut que jeunesse se passe. Even if that officer were here now, I should refrain from putting him out of the room if I thought you really cared for him. Only, mind you, do not give him any of my money. You hear?”

“You say, do you, that you would not be angry? Mais tu es un vrai philosophe, sais-tu? Oui, un vrai philosophe! Eh bien, je t’aimerai, je t’aimerai. Tu verras-tu seras content.”

True enough, from that time onward she seemed to attach herself only to me, and in this manner we spent our last ten days together. The promised “etoiles” I did not see, but in other respects she, to a certain extent, kept her word. Moreover, she introduced me to Hortense, who was a remarkable woman in her way, and known among us as Therese Philosophe.

But I need not enlarge further, for to do so would require a story to itself, and entail a colouring which I am lothe to impart to the present narrative. The point is that with all my faculties I desired the episode to come to an end as speedily as possible. Unfortunately, our hundred thousand francs lasted us, as I have said, for very nearly a month—which greatly surprised me. At all events, Blanche bought herself articles to the tune of eighty thousand francs, and the rest sufficed just to meet our expenses of living. Towards the close of the affair, Blanche grew almost frank with me (at least, she scarcely lied to me at all)—declaring, amongst other things, that none of the debts which she had been obliged to incur were going to fall upon my head. “I have purposely refrained from making you responsible for my bills or borrowings,” she said, “for the reason that I am sorry for you. Any other woman in my place would have done so, and have let you go to prison. See, then, how much I love you, and how good-hearted I am! Think, too, what this accursed marriage with the General is going to cost me!”

True enough, the marriage took place. It did so at the close of our month together, and I am bound to suppose that it was upon the ceremony that the last remnants of my money were spent. With it the episode—that is to say, my sojourn with the Frenchwoman—came to an end, and I formally retired from the scene.

It happened thus: A week after we had taken up our abode in Paris there arrived thither the General. He came straight to see us, and thenceforward lived with us practically as our guest, though he had a flat of his own as well. Blanche met him with merry badinage and laughter, and even threw her arms around him. In fact, she managed it so that he had to follow everywhere in her train—whether when promenading on the Boulevards, or when driving, or when going to the theatre, or when paying calls; and this use which she made of him quite satisfied the General. Still of imposing appearance and presence, as well as of fair height, he had a dyed moustache and whiskers (he had formerly been in the cuirassiers), and a handsome, though a somewhat wrinkled, face. Also, his manners were excellent, and he could carry a frockcoat well—the more so since, in Paris, he took to wearing his orders. To promenade the Boulevards with such a man was not only a thing possible, but also, so to speak, a thing advisable, and with this programme the good but foolish General had not a fault to find. The truth is that he had never counted upon this programme when he came to Paris to seek us out. On that occasion he had made his appearance nearly shaking with terror, for he had supposed that Blanche would at once raise an outcry, and have him put from the door; wherefore, he was the more enraptured at the turn that things had taken, and spent the month in a state of senseless ecstasy. Already I had learnt that, after our unexpected departure from Roulettenberg, he had had a sort of a fit—that he had fallen into a swoon, and spent a week in a species of garrulous delirium. Doctors had been summoned to him, but he had broken away from them, and suddenly taken a train to Paris. Of course Blanche’s reception of him had acted as the best of all possible cures, but for long enough he carried the marks of his affliction, despite his present condition of rapture and delight. To think clearly, or even to engage in any serious conversation, had now become impossible for him; he could only ejaculate after each word “Hm!” and then nod his head in confirmation. Sometimes, also, he would laugh, but only in a nervous, hysterical sort of a fashion; while at other times he would sit for hours looking as black as night, with his heavy eyebrows knitted. Of much that went on he remained wholly oblivious, for he grew extremely absent-minded, and took to talking to himself. Only Blanche could awake him to any semblance of life. His fits of depression and moodiness in corners always meant either that he had not seen her for some while, or that she had gone out without taking him with her, or that she had omitted to caress him before departing. When in this condition, he would refuse to say what he wanted— nor had he the least idea that he was thus sulking and moping. Next, after remaining in this condition for an hour or two (this I remarked on two occasions when Blanche had gone out for the day—probably to see Albert), he would begin to look about him, and to grow uneasy, and to hurry about with an air as though he had suddenly remembered something, and must try and find it; after which, not perceiving the object of his search, nor succeeding in recalling what that object had been, he would as suddenly relapse into oblivion, and continue so until the reappearance of Blanche—merry, wanton, half-dressed, and laughing her strident laugh as she approached to pet him, and even to kiss him (though the latter reward he seldom received). Once, he was so overjoyed at her doing so that he burst into tears. Even I myself was surprised.

From the first moment of his arrival in Paris, Blanche set herself to plead with me on his behalf; and at such times she even rose to heights of eloquence—saying that it was for ME she had abandoned him, though she had almost become his betrothed and promised to become so; that it was for HER sake he had deserted his family; that, having been in his service, I ought to remember the fact, and to feel ashamed. To all this I would say nothing, however much she chattered on; until at length I would burst out laughing, and the incident would come to an end (at first, as I have said, she had thought me a fool, but since she had come to deem me a man of sense and sensibility). In short, I had the happiness of calling her better nature into play; for though, at first, I had not deemed her so, she was, in reality, a kind-hearted woman after her own fashion. “You are good and clever,” she said to me towards the finish, “and my one regret is that you are also so wrong-headed. You will NEVER be a rich man!”

“Un vrai Russe—un Kalmuk” she usually called me.

Several times she sent me to give the General an airing in the streets, even as she might have done with a lacquey and her spaniel; but, I preferred to take him to the theatre, to the Bal Mabille, and to restaurants. For this purpose she usually allowed me some money, though the General had a little of his own, and enjoyed taking out his purse before strangers. Once I had to use actual force to prevent him from buying a phaeton at a price of seven hundred francs, after a vehicle had caught his fancy in the Palais Royal as seeming to be a desirable present for Blanche. What could SHE have done with a seven-hundred-franc phaeton?—and the General possessed in the world but a thousand francs! The origin even of those francs I could never determine, but imagined them to have emanated from Mr. Astley—the more so since the latter had paid the family’s hotel bill.

As for what view the General took of myself, I think that he never divined the footing on which I stood with Blanche. True, he had heard, in a dim sort of way, that I had won a good deal of money; but more probably he supposed me to be acting as secretary—or even as a kind of servant—to his inamorata. At all events, he continued to address me, in his old haughty style, as my superior. At times he even took it upon himself to scold me. One morning in particular, he started to sneer at me over our matutinal coffee. Though not a man prone to take offence, he suddenly, and for some reason of which to this day I am ignorant, fell out with me. Of course even he himself did not know the reason. To put things shortly, he began a speech which had neither beginning nor ending, and cried out, a batons rompus, that I was a boy whom he would soon put to rights—and so forth, and so forth. Yet no one could understand what he was saying, and at length Blanche exploded in a burst of laughter. Finally something appeased him, and he was taken out for his walk. More than once, however, I noticed that his depression was growing upon him; that he seemed to be feeling the want of somebody or something; that, despite Blanche’s presence, he was missing some person in particular. Twice, on these occasions, did he plunge into a conversation with me, though he could not make himself intelligible, and only went on rambling about the service, his late wife, his home, and his property. Every now and then, also, some particular word would please him; whereupon he would repeat it a hundred times in the day—even though the word happened to express neither his thoughts nor his feelings. Again, I would try to get him to talk about his children, but always he cut me short in his old snappish way, and passed to another subject. “Yes, yes—my children,” was all that I could extract from him. “Yes, you are right in what you have said about them.” Only once did he disclose his real feelings. That was when we were taking him to the theatre, and suddenly he exclaimed: “My unfortunate children! Yes, sir, they are unfortunate children.” Once, too, when I chanced to mention Polina, he grew quite bitter against her. “She is an ungrateful woman!” he exclaimed. “She is a bad and ungrateful woman! She has broken up a family. If there were laws here, I would have her impaled. Yes, I would.” As for De Griers, the General would not have his name mentioned. ” He has ruined me,” he would say. “He has robbed me, and cut my throat. For two years he was a perfect nightmare to me. For months at a time he never left me in my dreams. Do not speak of him again.”

It was now clear to me that Blanche and he were on the point of coming to terms; yet, true to my usual custom, I said nothing. At length, Blanche took the initiative in explaining matters. She did so a week before we parted.

“Il a du chance,” she prattled, “for the Grandmother is now REALLY ill, and therefore, bound to die. Mr. Astley has just sent a telegram to say so, and you will agree with me that the General is likely to be her heir. Even if he should not be so, he will not come amiss, since, in the first place, he has his pension, and, in the second place, he will be content to live in a back room; whereas I shall be Madame General, and get into a good circle of society” (she was always thinking of this) “and become a Russian chatelaine. Yes, I shall have a mansion of my own, and peasants, and a million of money at my back.”

“But, suppose he should prove jealous? He might demand all sorts of things, you know. Do you follow me?”

“Oh, dear no! How ridiculous that would be of him! Besides, I have taken measures to prevent it. You need not be alarmed. That is to say, I have induced him to sign notes of hand in Albert’s name. Consequently, at any time I could get him punished. Isn’t he ridiculous?”

“Very well, then. Marry him.”

And, in truth, she did so—though the marriage was a family one only, and involved no pomp or ceremony. In fact, she invited to the nuptials none but Albert and a few other friends. Hortense, Cleopatre, and the rest she kept firmly at a distance. As for the bridegroom, he took a great interest in his new position. Blanche herself tied his tie, and Blanche herself pomaded him— with the result that, in his frockcoat and white waistcoat, he looked quite comme il faut.

“Il est, pourtant, TRES comme il faut,” Blanche remarked when she issued from his room, as though the idea that he was “TRES comme il faut ” had impressed even her. For myself, I had so little knowledge of the minor details of the affair, and took part in it so much as a supine spectator, that I have forgotten most of what passed on this occasion. I only remember that Blanche and the Widow figured at it, not as “de Cominges,” but as “du Placet.” Why they had hitherto been “de Cominges ” I do not know— I only know that this entirely satisfied the General, that he liked the name “du Placet” even better than he had liked the name “de Cominges.” On the morning of the wedding, he paced the salon in his gala attire and kept repeating to himself with an air of great gravity and importance: ” Mlle. Blanche du Placet! Mlle. Blanche du Placet, du Placet!” He beamed with satisfaction as he did so. Both in the church and at the wedding breakfast he remained not only pleased and contented, but even proud. She too underwent a change, for now she assumed an air of added dignity.

“I must behave altogether differently,” she confided to me with a serious air. “Yet, mark you, there is a tiresome circumstance of which I had never before thought—which is, how best to pronounce my new family name. Zagorianski, Zagozianski, Madame la Generale de Sago, Madame la Generale de Fourteen Consonants—oh these infernal Russian names! The LAST of them would be the best to use, don’t you think?”

At length the time had come for us to part, and Blanche, the egregious Blanche, shed real tears as she took her leave of me. “Tu etais bon enfant” she said with a sob. “je te croyais bete et tu en avais l’air, but it suited you.” Then, having given me a final handshake, she exclaimed, “Attends!”; whereafter, running into her boudoir, she brought me thence two thousand-franc notes. I could scarcely believe my eyes! “They may come in handy for you,” she explained, “for, though you are a very learned tutor, you are a very stupid man. More than two thousand francs, however, I am not going to give you, for the reason that, if I did so, you would gamble them all away. Now good-bye. Nous serons toujours bons amis, and if you win again, do not fail to come to me, et tu seras heureux.”

I myself had still five hundred francs left, as well as a watch worth a thousand francs, a few diamond studs, and so on. Consequently, I could subsist for quite a length of time without particularly bestirring myself. Purposely I have taken up my abode where I am now partly to pull myself together, and partly to wait for Mr. Astley, who, I have learnt, will soon be here for a day or so on business. Yes, I know that, and then—and then I shall go to Homburg. But to Roulettenberg I shall not go until next year, for they say it is bad to try one’s luck twice in succession at a table. Moreover, Homburg is where the best play is carried on.


It is a year and eight months since I last looked at these notes of mine. I do so now only because, being overwhelmed with depression, I wish to distract my mind by reading them through at random. I left them off at the point where I was just going to Homburg. My God, with what a light heart (comparatively speaking) did I write the concluding lines!—though it may be not so much with a light heart, as with a measure of self-confidence and unquenchable hope. At that time had I any doubts of myself ? Yet behold me now. Scarcely a year and a half have passed, yet I am in a worse position than the meanest beggar. But what is a beggar? A fig for beggary! I have ruined myself —that is all. Nor is there anything with which I can compare myself; there is no moral which it would be of any use for you to read to me. At the present moment nothing could well be more incongruous than a moral. Oh, you self-satisfied persons who, in your unctuous pride, are forever ready to mouth your maxims—if only you knew how fully I myself comprehend the sordidness of my present state, you would not trouble to wag your tongues at me! What could you say to me that I do not already know? Well, wherein lies my difficulty? It lies in the fact that by a single turn of a roulette wheel everything for me, has become changed. Yet, had things befallen otherwise, these moralists would have been among the first (yes, I feel persuaded of it) to approach me with friendly jests and congratulations. Yes, they would never have turned from me as they are doing now! A fig for all of them! What am I? I am zero—nothing. What shall I be tomorrow? I may be risen from the dead, and have begun life anew. For still, I may discover the man in myself, if only my manhood has not become utterly shattered.

I went, I say, to Homburg, but afterwards went also to Roulettenberg, as well as to Spa and Baden; in which latter place, for a time, I acted as valet to a certain rascal of a Privy Councillor, by name Heintze, who until lately was also my master here. Yes, for five months I lived my life with lacqueys! That was just after I had come out of Roulettenberg prison, where I had lain for a small debt which I owed. Out of that prison I was bailed by—by whom? By Mr. Astley? By Polina? I do not know. At all events, the debt was paid to the tune of two hundred thalers, and I sallied forth a free man. But what was I to do with myself ? In my dilemma I had recourse to this Heintze, who was a young scapegrace, and the sort of man who could speak and write three languages. At first I acted as his secretary, at a salary of thirty gulden a month, but afterwards I became his lacquey, for the reason that he could not afford to keep a secretary—only an unpaid servant. I had nothing else to turn to, so I remained with him, and allowed myself to become his flunkey. But by stinting myself in meat and drink I saved, during my five months of service, some seventy gulden; and one evening, when we were at Baden, I told him that I wished to resign my post, and then hastened to betake myself to roulette.

Oh, how my heart beat as I did so! No, it was not the money that I valued— what I wanted was to make all this mob of Heintzes, hotel proprietors, and fine ladies of Baden talk about me, recount my story, wonder at me, extol my doings, and worship my winnings. True, these were childish fancies and aspirations, but who knows but that I might meet Polina, and be able to tell her everything, and see her look of surprise at the fact that I had overcome so many adverse strokes of fortune. No, I had no desire for money for its own sake, for I was perfectly well aware that I should only squander it upon some new Blanche, and spend another three weeks in Paris after buying a pair of horses which had cost sixteen thousand francs. No, I never believed myself to be a hoarder; in fact, I knew only too well that I was a spendthrift. And already, with a sort of fear, a sort of sinking in my heart, I could hear the cries of the croupiers— “Trente et un, rouge, impair et passe,” “Quarte, noir, pair et manque. ” How greedily I gazed upon the gaming-table, with its scattered louis d’or, ten-gulden pieces, and thalers; upon the streams of gold as they issued from the croupier’s hands, and piled themselves up into heaps of gold scintillating as fire; upon the ell—long rolls of silver lying around the croupier. Even at a distance of two rooms I could hear the chink of that money—so much so that I nearly fell into convulsions.

Ah, the evening when I took those seventy gulden to the gaming table was a memorable one for me. I began by staking ten gulden upon passe. For passe I had always had a sort of predilection, yet I lost my stake upon it. This left me with sixty gulden in silver. After a moment’s thought I selected zero—beginning by staking five gulden at a time. Twice I lost, but the third round suddenly brought up the desired coup. I could almost have died with joy as I received my one hundred and seventy-five gulden. Indeed, I have been less pleased when, in former times, I have won a hundred thousand gulden. Losing no time, I staked another hundred gulden upon the red, and won; two hundred upon the red, and won; four hundred upon the black, and won; eight hundred upon manque, and won. Thus, with the addition of the remainder of my original capital, I found myself possessed, within five minutes, of seventeen hundred gulden. Ah, at such moments one forgets both oneself and one’s former failures! This I had gained by risking my very life. I had dared so to risk, and behold, again I was a member of mankind!

I went and hired a room, I shut myself up in it, and sat counting my money until three o’clock in the morning. To think that when I awoke on the morrow, I was no lacquey! I decided to leave at once for Homburg. There I should neither have to serve as a footman nor to lie in prison. Half an hour before starting, I went and ventured a couple of stakes—no more; with the result that, in all, I lost fifteen hundred florins. Nevertheless, I proceeded to Homburg, and have now been there for a month.

Of course, I am living in constant trepidation,playing for the smallest of stakes, and always looking out for something—calculating, standing whole days by the gaming-tables to watch the play—even seeing that play in my dreams—yet seeming, the while, to be in some way stiffening, to be growing caked, as it were, in mire. But I must conclude my notes, which I finish under the impression of a recent encounter with Mr. Astley. I had not seen him since we parted at Roulettenberg, and now we met quite by accident. At the time I was walking in the public gardens, and meditating upon the fact that not only had I still some fifty olden in my possession, but also I had fully paid up my hotel bill three days ago. Consequently, I was in a position to try my luck again at roulette; and if I won anything I should be able to continue my play, whereas, if I lost what I now possessed, I should once more have to accept a lacquey’s place, provided that, in the alternative, I failed to discover a Russian family which stood in need of a tutor. Plunged in these reflections, I started on my daily walk through the Park and forest towards a neighbouring principality. Sometimes, on such occasions, I spent four hours on the way, and would return to Homburg tired and hungry; but, on this particular occasion, I had scarcely left the gardens for the Park when I caught sight of Astley seated on a bench. As soon as he perceived me, he called me by name, and I went and sat down beside him; but, on noticing that he seemed a little stiff in his manner, I hastened to moderate the expression of joy which the sight of him had called forth.

“YOU here?” he said. “Well, I had an idea that I should meet you. Do not trouble to tell me anything, for I know all—yes, all. In fact, your whole life during the past twenty months lies within my knowledge.”

“How closely you watch the doings of your old friends!” I replied. “That does you infinite credit. But stop a moment. You have reminded me of something. Was it you who bailed me out of Roulettenberg prison when I was lying there for a debt of two hundred gulden? SOMEONE did so.”

“Oh dear no!—though I knew all the time that you were lying there.”

“Perhaps you could tell me who DID bail me out?”

“No; I am afraid I could not.”

“What a strange thing! For I know no Russians at all here, so it cannot have been a Russian who befriended me. In Russia we Orthodox folk DO go bail for one another, but in this case I thought it must have been done by some English stranger who was not conversant with the ways of the country.”

Mr. Astley seemed to listen to me with a sort of surprise. Evidently he had expected to see me looking more crushed and broken than I was.

“Well,” he said—not very pleasantly, “I am none the less glad to find that you retain your old independence of spirit, as well as your buoyancy.”

“Which means that you are vexed at not having found me more abased and humiliated than I am?” I retorted with a smile.

Astley was not quick to understand this, but presently did so and laughed.

“Your remarks please me as they always did,” he continued. “In those words I see the clever, triumphant, and, above all things, cynical friend of former days. Only Russians have the faculty of combining within themselves so many opposite qualities. Yes, most men love to see their best friend in abasement; for generally it is on such abasement that friendship is founded. All thinking persons know that ancient truth. Yet, on the present occasion, I assure you, I am sincerely glad to see that you are NOT cast down. Tell me, are you never going to give up gambling?”

“Damn the gambling! Yes, I should certainly have given it up, were it not that—”

“That you are losing? I thought so. You need not tell me any more. I know how things stand, for you have said that last in despair, and therefore, truthfully. Have you no other employment than gambling?”

“No; none whatever.”

Astley gave me a searching glance. At that time it was ages since I had last looked at a paper or turned the pages of a book.

“You are growing blase,” he said. “You have not only renounced life, with its interests and social ties, but the duties of a citizen and a man; you have not only renounced the friends whom I know you to have had, and every aim in life but that of winning money; but you have also renounced your memory. Though I can remember you in the strong, ardent period of your life, I feel persuaded that you have now forgotten every better feeling of that period—that your present dreams and aspirations of subsistence do not rise above pair, impair rouge, noir, the twelve middle numbers, and so forth.”

“Enough, Mr. Astley!” I cried with some irritation—almost in anger. “Kindly do not recall to me any more recollections, for I can remember things for myself. Only for a time have I put them out of my head. Only until I shall have rehabilitated myself, am I keeping my memory dulled. When that hour shall come, you will see me arise from the dead.”

“Then you will have to be here another ten years,” he replied. “Should I then be alive, I will remind you—here, on this very bench—of what I have just said. In fact, I will bet you a wager that I shall do so.”

“Say no more,” I interrupted impatiently. “And to show you that I have not wholly forgotten the past, may I enquire where Mlle. Polina is? If it was not you who bailed me out of prison, it must have been she. Yet never have I heard a word concerning her.”

“No, I do not think it was she. At the present moment she is in Switzerland, and you will do me a favour by ceasing to ask me these questions about her.” Astley said this with a firm, and even an angry, air.

“Which means that she has dealt you a serious wound?” I burst out with an involuntary sneer.

“Mlle. Polina,” he continued, “Is the best of all possible living beings; but, I repeat, that I shall thank you to cease questioning me about her. You never really knew her, and her name on your lips is an offence to my moral feeling.”

“Indeed? On what subject, then, have I a better right to speak to you than on this? With it are bound up all your recollections and mine. However, do not be alarmed: I have no wish to probe too far into your private, your secret affairs. My interest in Mlle. Polina does not extend beyond her outward circumstances and surroundings. About them you could tell me in two words.”

“Well, on condition that the matter shall end there, I will tell you that for a long time Mlle. Polina was ill, and still is so. My mother and sister entertained her for a while at their home in the north of England, and thereafter Mlle. Polina’s grandmother (you remember the mad old woman?) died, and left Mlle. Polina a personal legacy of seven thousand pounds sterling. That was about six months ago, and now Mlle. is travelling with my sister’s family— my sister having since married. Mlle.‘s little brother and sister also benefited by the Grandmother’s will, and are now being educated in London. As for the General, he died in Paris last month, of a stroke. Mlle. Blanche did well by him, for she succeeded in having transferred to herself all that he received from the Grandmother. That, I think, concludes all that I have to tell.”

“And De Griers? Is he too travelling in Switzerland?”

“No; nor do I know where he is. Also I warn you once more that you had better avoid such hints and ignoble suppositions; otherwise you will assuredly have to reckon with me.”

“What? In spite of our old friendship?”

“Yes, in spite of our old friendship.”

“Then I beg your pardon a thousand times, Mr. Astley. I meant nothing offensive to Mlle. Polina, for I have nothing of which to accuse her. Moreover, the question of there being anything between this Frenchman and this Russian lady is not one which you and I need discuss, nor even attempt to understand.”

“If,” replied Astley, “you do not care to hear their names coupled together, may I ask you what you mean by the expressions ‘this Frenchman,’ ‘this Russian lady,’ and ‘there being anything between them’? Why do you call them so particularly a ‘Frenchman’ and a ‘Russian lady’?”

“Ah, I see you are interested, Mr. Astley. But it is a long, long story, and calls for a lengthy preface. At the same time, the question is an important one, however ridiculous it may seem at the first glance. A Frenchman, Mr. Astley, is merely a fine figure of a man. With this you, as a Britisher, may not agree. With it I also, as a Russian, may not agree—out of envy. Yet possibly our good ladies are of another opinion. For instance, one may look upon Racine as a broken-down, hobbledehoy, perfumed individual—one may even be unable to read him; and I too may think him the same, as well as, in some respects, a subject for ridicule. Yet about him, Mr. Astley, there is a certain charm, and, above all things, he is a great poet—though one might like to deny it. Yes, the Frenchman, the Parisian, as a national figure, was in process of developing into a figure of elegance before we Russians had even ceased to be bears. The Revolution bequeathed to the French nobility its heritage, and now every whippersnapper of a Parisian may possess manners, methods of expression, and even thoughts that are above reproach in form, while all the time he himself may share in that form neither in initiative nor in intellect nor in soul—his manners, and the rest, having come to him through inheritance. Yes, taken by himself, the Frenchman is frequently a fool of fools and a villain of villains.

Per contra, there is no one in the world more worthy of confidence and respect than this young Russian lady. De Griers might so mask his face and play a part as easily to overcome her heart, for he has an imposing figure, Mr. Astley, and this young lady might easily take that figure for his real self—for the natural form of his heart and soul—instead of the mere cloak with which heredity has dowered him. And even though it may offend you, I feel bound to say that the majority also of English people are uncouth and unrefined, whereas we Russian folk can recognise beauty wherever we see it, and are always eager to cultivate the same. But to distinguish beauty of soul and personal originality there is needed far more independence and freedom than is possessed by our women, especially by our younger ladies. At all events, they need more EXPERIENCE. For instance, this Mlle. Polina—pardon me, but the name has passed my lips, and I cannot well recall it—is taking a very long time to make up her mind to prefer you to Monsieur de Griers. She may respect you, she may become your friend, she may open out her heart to you; yet over that heart there will be reigning that loathsome villain, that mean and petty usurer, De Griers. This will be due to obstinacy and self-love—to the fact that De Griers once appeared to her in the transfigured guise of a marquis, of a disenchanted and ruined liberal who was doing his best to help her family and the frivolous old General; and, although these transactions of his have since been exposed, you will find that the exposure has made no impression upon her mind. Only give her the De Griers of former days, and she will ask of you no more. The more she may detest the present De Griers, the more will she lament the De Griers of the past—even though the latter never existed but in her own imagination. You are a sugar refiner, Mr. Astley, are you not?”

“Yes, I belong to the well-known firm of Lovell and Co.”

“Then see here. On the one hand, you are a sugar refiner, while, on the other hand, you are an Apollo Belvedere. But the two characters do not mix with one another. I, again, am not even a sugar refiner; I am a mere roulette gambler who has also served as a lacquey. Of this fact Mlle. Polina is probably well aware, since she appears to have an excellent force of police at her disposal.”

“You are saying this because you are feeling bitter,” said Astley with cold indifference. “Yet there is not the least originality in your words.”

“I agree. But therein lies the horror of it all—that, however mean and farcical my accusations may be, they are none the less TRUE. But I am only wasting words.”

“Yes, you are, for you are only talking nonsense! exclaimed my companion—his voice now trembling and his eyes flashing fire. “Are you aware,” he continued, “that wretched, ignoble, petty, unfortunate man though you are, it was at HER request I came to Homburg, in order to see you, and to have a long, serious talk with you, and to report to her your feelings and thoughts and hopes—yes, and your recollections of her, too?”

“Indeed? Is that really so?” I cried—the tears beginning to well from my eyes. Never before had this happened.

“Yes, poor unfortunate,” continued Astley. “She DID love you; and I may tell you this now for the reason that now you are utterly lost. Even if I were also to tell you that she still loves you, you would none the less have to remain where you are. Yes, you have ruined yourself beyond redemption. Once upon a time you had a certain amount of talent, and you were of a lively disposition, and your good looks were not to be despised. You might even have been useful to your country, which needs men like you. Yet you remained here, and your life is now over. I am not blaming you for this— in my view all Russians resemble you, or are inclined to do so. If it is not roulette, then it is something else. The exceptions are very rare. Nor are you the first to learn what a taskmaster is yours. For roulette is not exclusively a Russian game. Hitherto, you have honourably preferred to serve as a lacquey rather than to act as a thief; but what the future may have in store for you I tremble to think. Now good-bye. You are in want of money, I suppose? Then take these ten louis d’or. More I shall not give you, for you would only gamble it away. Take care of these coins, and farewell. Once more, TAKE CARE of them.”

“No, Mr. Astley. After all that has been said I—”

“TAKE CARE of them!” repeated my friend. “I am certain you are still a gentleman, and therefore I give you the money as one gentleman may give money to another. Also, if I could be certain that you would leave both Homburg and the gaming-tables, and return to your own country, I would give you a thousand pounds down to start life afresh; but, I give you ten louis d’or instead of a thousand pounds for the reason that at the present time a thousand pounds and ten louis d’or will be all the same to you—you will lose the one as readily as you will the other. Take the money, therefore, and good-bye.”

“Yes, I WILL take it if at the same time you will embrace me.”

“With pleasure.”

So we parted—on terms of sincere affection.


But he was wrong. If I was hard and undiscerning as regards Polina and De Griers, HE was hard and undiscerning as regards Russian people generally. Of myself I say nothing. Yet—yet words are only words. I need to ACT. Above all things I need to think of Switzerland. Tomorrow, tomorrow— Ah, but if only I could set things right tomorrow, and be born again, and rise again from the dead! But no—I cannot. Yet I must show her what I can do. Even if she should do no more than learn that I can still play the man, it would be worth it. Today it is too late, but TOMORROW…

Yet I have a presentiment that things can never be otherwise. I have got fifteen louis d’or in my possession, although I began with fifteen gulden. If I were to play carefully at the start—But no, no! Surely I am not such a fool as that? Yet WHY should I not rise from the dead? I should require at first but to go cautiously and patiently and the rest would follow. I should require but to put a check upon my nature for one hour, and my fortunes would be changed entirely. Yes, my nature is my weak point. I have only to remember what happened to me some months ago at Roulettenberg, before my final ruin. What a notable instance that was of my capacity for resolution! On the occasion in question I had lost everything—everything; yet, just as I was leaving the Casino, I heard another gulden give a rattle in my pocket! “Perhaps I shall need it for a meal,” I thought to myself; but a hundred paces further on, I changed my mind, and returned. That gulden I staked upon manque—and there is something in the feeling that, though one is alone, and in a foreign land, and far from one’s own home and friends, and ignorant of whence one’s next meal is to come, one is nevertheless staking one’s very last coin! Well, I won the stake, and in twenty minutes had left the Casino with a hundred and seventy gulden in my pocket! That is a fact, and it shows what a last remaining gulden can do… . But what if my heart had failed me, or I had shrunk from making up my mind? …

No: tomorrow all shall be ended!

The Idiot

Translated by Eva Martin

Part 1


Towards the end of November, during a thaw, at nine o’clock one morning, a train on the Warsaw and Petersburg railway was approaching the latter city at full speed. The morning was so damp and misty that it was only with great difficulty that the day succeeded in breaking; and it was impossible to distinguish anything more than a few yards away from the carriage windows.

Some of the passengers by this particular train were returning from abroad; but the third-class carriages were the best filled, chiefly with insignificant persons of various occupations and degrees, picked up at the different stations nearer town. All of them seemed weary, and most of them had sleepy eyes and a shivering expression, while their complexions generally appeared to have taken on the colour of the fog outside.

When day dawned, two passengers in one of the third-class carriages found themselves opposite each other. Both were young fellows, both were rather poorly dressed, both had remarkable faces, and both were evidently anxious to start a conversation. If they had but known why, at this particular moment, they were both remarkable persons, they would undoubtedly have wondered at the strange chance which had set them down opposite to one another in a third-class carriage of the Warsaw Railway Company.

One of them was a young fellow of about twenty-seven, not tall, with black curling hair, and small, grey, fiery eyes. His nose was broad and flat, and he had high cheek bones; his thin lips were constantly compressed into an impudent, ironical—it might almost be called a malicious—smile; but his forehead was high and well formed, and atoned for a good deal of the ugliness of the lower part of his face. A special feature of this physiognomy was its death-like pallor, which gave to the whole man an indescribably emaciated appearance in spite of his hard look, and at the same time a sort of passionate and suffering expression which did not harmonize with his impudent, sarcastic smile and keen, self-satisfied bearing. He wore a large fur—or rather astrachan—overcoat, which had kept him warm all night, while his neighbour had been obliged to bear the full severity of a Russian November night entirely unprepared. His wide sleeveless mantle with a large cape to it—the sort of cloak one sees upon travellers during the winter months in Switzerland or North Italy—was by no means adapted to the long cold journey through Russia, from Eydkuhnen to St. Petersburg.

The wearer of this cloak was a young fellow, also of about twenty-six or twenty-seven years of age, slightly above the middle height, very fair, with a thin, pointed and very light coloured beard; his eyes were large and blue, and had an intent look about them, yet that heavy expression which some people affirm to be a peculiarity. as well as evidence, of an epileptic subject. His face was decidedly a pleasant one for all that; refined, but quite colourless, except for the circumstance that at this moment it was blue with cold. He held a bundle made up of an old faded silk handkerchief that apparently contained all his travelling wardrobe, and wore thick shoes and gaiters, his whole appearance being very un-Russian.

His black-haired neighbour inspected these peculiarities, having nothing better to do, and at length remarked, with that rude enjoyment of the discomforts of others which the common classes so often show:


“Very,” said his neighbour, readily. “and this is a thaw, too. Fancy if it had been a hard frost! I never thought it would be so cold in the old country. I’ve grown quite out of the way of it.”

“What, been abroad, I suppose?”

“Yes, straight from Switzerland.”

“Wheugh! my goodness!” The black-haired young fellow whistled, and then laughed.

The conversation proceeded. The readiness of the fair-haired young man in the cloak to answer all his opposite neighbour’s questions was surprising. He seemed to have no suspicion of any impertinence or inappropriateness in the fact of such questions being put to him. Replying to them, he made known to the inquirer that he certainly had been long absent from Russia, more than four years; that he had been sent abroad for his health; that he had suffered from some strange nervous malady—a kind of epilepsy, with convulsive spasms. His interlocutor burst out laughing several times at his answers; and more than ever, when to the question, ” whether he had been cured?” the patient replied:

“No, they did not cure me.”

“Hey! that’s it! You stumped up your money for nothing, and we believe in those fellows, here!” remarked the black-haired individual, sarcastically.

“Gospel truth, sir, Gospel truth!” exclaimed another passenger, a shabbily dressed man of about forty, who looked like a clerk, and possessed a red nose and a very blotchy face. “Gospel truth! All they do is to get hold of our good Russian money free, gratis, and for nothing. “

“Oh, but you’re quite wrong in my particular instance,” said the Swiss patient, quietly. “Of course I can’t argue the matter, because I know only my own case; but my doctor gave me money—and he had very little—to pay my journey back, besides having kept me at his own expense, while there, for nearly two years.”

“Why? Was there no one else to pay for you?” asked the black- haired one.

“No—Mr. Pavlicheff, who had been supporting me there, died a couple of years ago. I wrote to Mrs. General Epanchin at the time (she is a distant relative of mine), but she did not answer my letter. And so eventually I came back.”

“And where have you come to?”

“That is—where am I going to stay? I—I really don’t quite know yet, I—”

Both the listeners laughed again.

“I suppose your whole set-up is in that bundle, then?” asked the first.

“I bet anything it is!” exclaimed the red-nosed passenger, with extreme satisfaction, “and that he has precious little in the luggage van!—though of course poverty is no crime—we must remember that!”

It appeared that it was indeed as they had surmised. The young fellow hastened to admit the fact with wonderful readiness.

“Your bundle has some importance, however,” continued the clerk, when they had laughed their fill (it was observable that the subject of their mirth joined in the laughter when he saw them laughing); “for though I dare say it is not stuffed full of friedrichs d’or and louis d’or—judge from your costume and gaiters—still—if you can add to your possessions such a valuable property as a relation like Mrs. General Epanchin, then your bundle becomes a significant object at once. That is, of course, if you really are a relative of Mrs. Epanchin’s, and have not made a little error through—well, absence of mind, which is very common to human beings; or, say—through a too luxuriant fancy?”

“Oh, you are right again,” said the fair-haired traveller, “for I really am ALMOST wrong when I say she and I are related. She is hardly a relation at all; so little, in fact, that I was not in the least surprised to have no answer to my letter. I expected as much.”

“H’m! you spent your postage for nothing, then. H’m! you are candid, however—and that is commendable. H’m! Mrs. Epanchin—oh yes! a most eminent person. I know her. As for Mr. Pavlicheff, who supported you in Switzerland, I know him too—at least, if it was Nicolai Andreevitch of that name? A fine fellow he was—and had a property of four thousand souls in his day.”

“Yes, Nicolai Andreevitch—that was his name,” and the young fellow looked earnestly and with curiosity at the all-knowing gentleman with the red nose.

This sort of character is met with pretty frequently in a certain class. They are people who know everyone—that is, they know where a man is employed, what his salary is, whom he knows, whom he married, what money his wife had, who are his cousins, and second cousins, etc., etc. These men generally have about a hundred pounds a year to live on, and they spend their whole time and talents in the amassing of this style of knowledge, which they reduce—or raise—to the standard of a science.

During the latter part of the conversation the black-haired young man had become very impatient. He stared out of the window, and fidgeted, and evidently longed for the end of the journey. He was very absent; he would appear to listen-and heard nothing; and he would laugh of a sudden, evidently with no idea of what he was laughing about.

“Excuse me,” said the red-nosed man to the young fellow with the bundle, rather suddenly; “whom have I the honour to be talking to?”

“Prince Lef Nicolaievitch Muishkin,” replied the latter, with perfect readiness.

“Prince Muishkin? Lef Nicolaievitch? H’m! I don’t know, I’m sure! I may say I have never heard of such a person,” said the clerk, thoughtfully. “At least, the name, I admit, is historical. Karamsin must mention the family name, of course, in his history- -but as an individual—one never hears of any Prince Muishkin nowadays.”

“Of course not,” replied the prince; “there are none, except myself. I believe I am the last and only one. As to my forefathers, they have always been a poor lot; my own father was a sublieutenant in the army. I don’t know how Mrs. Epanchin comes into the Muishkin family, but she is descended from the Princess Muishkin, and she, too, is the last of her line.”

“And did you learn science and all that, with your professor over there?” asked the black-haired passenger.

“Oh yes—I did learn a little, but—”

“I’ve never learned anything whatever,” said the other.

“Oh, but I learned very little, you know!” added the prince, as though excusing himself. “They could not teach me very much on account of my illness. “

“Do you know the Rogojins?” asked his questioner, abruptly.

“No, I don’t—not at all! I hardly know anyone in Russia. Why, is that your name?”

“Yes, I am Rogojin, Parfen Rogojin.”

“Parfen Rogojin? dear me—then don’t you belong to those very Rogojins, perhaps—” began the clerk, with a very perceptible increase of civility in his tone.

“Yes—those very ones,” interrupted Rogojin, impatiently, and with scant courtesy. I may remark that he had not once taken any notice of the blotchy-faced passenger, and had hitherto addressed all his remarks direct to the prince.

“Dear me—is it possible?” observed the clerk, while his face assumed an expression of great deference and servility—if not of absolute alarm: “what, a son of that very Semen Rogojin— hereditary honourable citizen—who died a month or so ago and left two million and a half of roubles?”

“And how do YOU know that he left two million and a half of roubles?” asked Rogojin, disdainfully, and no deigning so much as to look at the other. “However, it’s true enough that my father died a month ago, and that here am I returning from Pskoff, a month after, with hardly a boot to my foot. They’ve treated me like a dog! I’ve been ill of fever at Pskoff the whole time, and not a line, nor farthing of money, have I received from my mother or my confounded brother!”

“And now you’ll have a million roubles, at least—goodness gracious me!” exclaimed the clerk, rubbing his hands.

“Five weeks since, I was just like yourself,” continued Rogojin, addressing the prince, “with nothing but a bundle and the clothes I wore. I ran away from my father and came to Pskoff to my aunt’s house, where I caved in at once with fever, and he went and died while I was away. All honour to my respected father’s memory—but he uncommonly nearly killed me, all the same. Give you my word, prince, if I hadn’t cut and run then, when I did, he’d have murdered me like a dog.”

“I suppose you angered him somehow?” asked the prince, looking at the millionaire with considerable curiosity But though there may have been something remarkable in the fact that this man was heir to millions of roubles there was something about him which surprised and interested the prince more than that. Rogojin, too, seemed to have taken up the conversation with unusual alacrity it appeared that he was still in a considerable state of excitement, if not absolutely feverish, and was in real need of someone to talk to for the mere sake of talking, as safety-valve to his agitation.

As for his red-nosed neighbour, the latter—since the information as to the identity of Rogojin—hung over him, seemed to be living on the honey of his words and in the breath of his nostrils, catching at every syllable as though it were a pearl of great price.

“Oh, yes; I angered him—I certainly did anger him,” replied Rogojin. “But what puts me out so is my brother. Of course my mother couldn’t do anything—she’s too old—and whatever brother Senka says is law for her! But why couldn’t he let me know? He sent a telegram, they say. What’s the good of a telegram? It frightened my aunt so that she sent it back to the office unopened, and there it’s been ever since! It’s only thanks to Konief that I heard at all; he wrote me all about it. He says my brother cut off the gold tassels from my father’s coffin, at night because they’re worth a lot of money!’ says he. Why, I can get him sent off to Siberia for that alone, if I like; it’s sacrilege. Here, you—scarecrow!” he added, addressing the clerk at his side, “is it sacrilege or not, by law?’

“Sacrilege, certainly—certainly sacrilege,” said the latter.

“And it’s Siberia for sacrilege, isn’t it?”

“Undoubtedly so; Siberia, of course!”

“They will think that I’m still ill,” continued Rogojin to the prince, “but I sloped off quietly, seedy as I was, took the train and came away. Aha, brother Senka, you’ll have to open your gates and let me in, my boy! I know he told tales about me to my father—I know that well enough but I certainly did rile my father about Nastasia Philipovna that’s very sure, and that was my own doing.”

“Nastasia Philipovna?” said the clerk, as though trying to think out something.

“Come, you know nothing about HER,” said Rogojin, impatiently.

“And supposing I do know something?” observed the other, triumphantly.

“Bosh! there are plenty of Nastasia Philipovnas. And what an impertinent beast you are!” he added angrily. “I thought some creature like you would hang on to me as soon as I got hold of my money. “

“Oh, but I do know, as it happens,” said the clerk in an aggravating manner. “Lebedeff knows all about her. You are pleased to reproach me, your excellency, but what if I prove that I am right after all? Nastasia Phillpovna’s family name is Barashkoff—I know, you see-and she is a very well known lady, indeed, and comes of a good family, too. She is connected with one Totski, Afanasy Ivanovitch, a man of considerable property, a director of companies, and so on, and a great friend of General Epanchin, who is interested in the same matters as he is.”

“My eyes!” said Rogojin, really surprised at last. “The devil take the fellow, how does he know that?”

“Why, he knows everything—Lebedeff knows everything! I was a month or two with Lihachof after his father died, your excellency, and while he was knocking about—he’s in the debtor’s prison now—I was with him, and he couldn’t do a thing without Lebedeff; and I got to know Nastasia Philipovna and several people at that time.”

“Nastasia Philipovna? Why, you don’t mean to say that she and Lihachof—” cried Rogojin, turning quite pale.

“No, no, no, no, no! Nothing of the sort, I assure you!” said Lebedeff, hastily. “Oh dear no, not for the world! Totski’s the only man with any chance there. Oh, no! He takes her to his box at the opera at the French theatre of an evening, and the officers and people all look at her and say, ‘By Jove, there’s the famous Nastasia Philipovna!’ but no one ever gets any further than that, for there is nothing more to say.”

“Yes, it’s quite true,” said Rogojin, frowning gloomily; “so Zaleshoff told me. I was walking about the Nefsky one fine day, prince, in my father’s old coat, when she suddenly came out of a shop and stepped into her carriage. I swear I was all of a blaze at once. Then I met Zaleshoff—looking like a hair-dresser’s assistant, got up as fine as I don’t know who, while I looked like a tinker. ‘Don’t flatter yourself, my boy,’ said he; ‘she’s not for such as you; she’s a princess, she is, and her name is Nastasia Philipovna Barashkoff, and she lives with Totski, who wishes to get rid of her because he’s growing rather old—fifty- five or so—and wants to marry a certain beauty, the loveliest woman in all Petersburg.’ And then he told me that I could see Nastasia Philipovna at the opera-house that evening, if I liked, and described which was her box. Well, I’d like to see my father allowing any of us to go to the theatre; he’d sooner have killed us, any day. However, I went for an hour or so and saw Nastasia Philipovna, and I never slept a wink all night after. Next morning my father happened to give me two government loan bonds to sell, worth nearly five thousand roubles each. ‘Sell them,’ said he, ‘and then take seven thousand five hundred roubles to the office, give them to the cashier, and bring me back the rest of the ten thousand, without looking in anywhere on the way; look sharp, I shall be waiting for you.’ Well, I sold the bonds, but I didn’t take the seven thousand roubles to the office; I went straight to the English shop and chose a pair of earrings, with a diamond the size of a nut in each. They cost four hundred roubles more than I had, so I gave my name, and they trusted me. With the earrings I went at once to Zaleshoff’s. ‘Come on!’ I said, ‘come on to Nastasia Philipovna’s,’ and off we went without more ado. I tell you I hadn’t a notion of what was about me or before me or below my feet all the way; I saw nothing whatever. We went straight into her drawing-room, and then she came out to us.

“I didn’t say right out who I was, but Zaleshoff said: ‘From Parfen Rogojin, in memory of his first meeting with you yesterday; be so kind as to accept these!’

“She opened the parcel, looked at the earrings, and laughed.

“‘Thank your friend Mr. Rogojin for his kind attention,’ says she, and bowed and went off. Why didn’t I die there on the spot? The worst of it all was, though, that the beast Zaleshoff got all the credit of it! I was short and abominably dressed, and stood and stared in her face and never said a word, because I was shy, like an ass! And there was he all in the fashion, pomaded and dressed out, with a smart tie on, bowing and scraping; and I bet anything she took him for me all the while!

“‘Look here now,’ I said, when we came out, ‘none of your interference here after this-do you understand?’ He laughed: ‘And how are you going to settle up with your father?’ says he. I thought I might as well jump into the Neva at once without going home first; but it struck me that I wouldn’t, after all, and I went home feeling like one of the damned.”

“My goodness!” shivered the clerk. “And his father,” he added, for the prince’s instruction, “and his father would have given a man a ticket to the other world for ten roubles any day—not to speak of ten thousand!”

The prince observed Rogojin with great curiosity; he seemed paler than ever at this moment.

“What do you know about it?” cried the latter. “Well, my father learned the whole story at once, and Zaleshoff blabbed it all over the town besides. So he took me upstairs and locked me up, and swore at me for an hour. ‘This is only a foretaste,’ says he; ‘wait a bit till night comes, and I’ll come back and talk to you again.’

“Well, what do you think? The old fellow went straight off to Nastasia Philipovna, touched the floor with his forehead, and began blubbering and beseeching her on his knees to give him back the diamonds. So after awhile she brought the box and flew out at him. ‘There,’ she says, ‘take your earrings, you wretched old miser; although they are ten times dearer than their value to me now that I know what it must have cost Parfen to get them! Give Parfen my compliments,’ she says, ‘and thank him very much!’ Well, I meanwhile had borrowed twenty-five roubles from a friend, and off I went to Pskoff to my aunt’s. The old woman there lectured me so that I left the house and went on a drinking tour round the public-houses of the place. I was in a high fever when I got to Pskoff, and by nightfall I was lying delirious in the streets somewhere or other!”

“Oho! we’ll make Nastasia Philipovna sing another song now!” giggled Lebedeff, rubbing his hands with glee. “Hey, my boy, we’ll get her some proper earrings now! We’ll get her such earrings that—”

“Look here,” cried Rogojin, seizing him fiercely by the arm, “look here, if you so much as name Nastasia Philipovna again, I’ll tan your hide as sure as you sit there!”

“Aha! do—by all means! if you tan my hide you won’t turn me away from your society. You’ll bind me to you, with your lash, for ever. Ha, ha! here we are at the station, though.”

Sure enough, the train was just steaming in as he spoke.

Though Rogojin had declared that he left Pskoff secretly, a large collection of friends had assembled to greet him, and did so with profuse waving of hats and shouting.

“Why, there’s Zaleshoff here, too!” he muttered, gazing at the scene with a sort of triumphant but unpleasant smile. Then he suddenly turned to the prince: “Prince, I don’t know why I have taken a fancy to you; perhaps because I met you just when I did. But no, it can’t be that, for I met this fellow ” (nodding at Lebedeff) “too, and I have not taken a fancy to him by any means. Come to see me, prince; we’ll take off those gaiters of yours and dress you up in a smart fur coat, the best we can buy. You shall have a dress coat, best quality, white waistcoat, anything you like, and your pocket shall be full of money. Come, and you shall go with me to Nastasia Philipovna’s. Now then will you come or no?”

“Accept, accept, Prince Lef Nicolaievitch” said Lebedef solemnly; “don’t let it slip! Accept, quick!”

Prince Muishkin rose and stretched out his hand courteously, while he replied with some cordiality:

“I will come with the greatest pleasure, and thank you very much for taking a fancy to me. I dare say I may even come today if I have time, for I tell you frankly that I like you very much too. I liked you especially when you told us about the diamond earrings; but I liked you before that as well, though you have such a dark-clouded sort of face. Thanks very much for the offer of clothes and a fur coat; I certainly shall require both clothes and coat very soon. As for money, I have hardly a copeck about me at this moment.”

“You shall have lots of money; by the evening I shall have plenty; so come along!”

“That’s true enough, he’ll have lots before evening!” put in Lebedeff.

“But, look here, are you a great hand with the ladies? Let’s know that first?” asked Rogojin.

“Oh no, oh no! said the prince; “I couldn’t, you know—my illness—I hardly ever saw a soul.”

“H’m! well—here, you fellow-you can come along with me now if you like!” cried Rogojin to Lebedeff, and so they all left the carriage.

Lebedeff had his desire. He went off with the noisy group of Rogojin’s friends towards the Voznesensky, while the prince’s route lay towards the Litaynaya. It was damp and wet. The prince asked his way of passers-by, and finding that he was a couple of miles or so from his destination, he determined to take a droshky.


General Epanchin lived in his own house near the Litaynaya. Besides this large residence—five-sixths of which was let in flats and lodgings-the general was owner of another enormous house in the Sadovaya bringing in even more rent than the first. Besides these houses he had a delightful little estate just out of town, and some sort of factory in another part of the city. General Epanchin, as everyone knew, had a good deal to do with certain government monopolies; he was also a voice, and an important one, in many rich public companies of various descriptions; in fact, he enjoyed the reputation of being a well- to-do man of busy habits, many ties, and affluent means. He had made himself indispensable in several quarters, amongst others in his department of the government; and yet it was a known fact that Fedor Ivanovitch Epanchin was a man of no education whatever, and had absolutely risen from the ranks.

This last fact could, of course, reflect nothing but credit upon the general; and yet, though unquestionably a sagacious man, he had his own little weaknesses-very excusable ones,—one of which was a dislike to any allusion to the above circumstance. He was undoubtedly clever. For instance, he made a point of never asserting himself when he would gain more by keeping in the background; and in consequence many exalted personages valued him principally for his humility and simplicity, and because “he knew his place.” And yet if these good people could only have had a peep into the mind of this excellent fellow who “knew his place” so well! The fact is that, in spite of his knowledge of the world and his really remarkable abilities, he always liked to appear to be carrying out other people’s ideas rather than his own. And also, his luck seldom failed him, even at cards, for which he had a passion that he did not attempt to conceal. He played for high stakes, and moved, altogether, in very varied society.

As to age, General Epanchin was in the very prime of life; that is, about fifty-five years of age,—the flowering time of existence, when real enjoyment of life begins. His healthy appearance, good colour, sound, though discoloured teeth, sturdy figure, preoccupied air during business hours, and jolly good humour during his game at cards in the evening, all bore witness to his success in life, and combined to make existence a bed of roses to his excellency. The general was lord of a flourishing family, consisting of his wife and three grown-up daughters. He had married young, while still a lieutenant, his wife being a girl of about his own age, who possessed neither beauty nor education, and who brought him no more than fifty souls of landed property, which little estate served, however, as a nest-egg for far more important accumulations. The general never regretted his early marriage, or regarded it as a foolish youthful escapade; and he so respected and feared his wife that he was very near loving her. Mrs. Epanchin came of the princely stock of Muishkin, which if not a brilliant, was, at all events, a decidedly ancient family; and she was extremely proud of her descent.

With a few exceptions, the worthy couple had lived through their long union very happily. While still young the wife had been able to make important friends among the aristocracy, partly by virtue of her family descent, and partly by her own exertions; while, in after life, thanks to their wealth and to the position of her husband in the service, she took her place among the higher circles as by right.

During these last few years all three of the general’s daughters- Alexandra, Adelaida, and Aglaya—had grown up and matured. Of course they were only Epanchins, but their mother’s family was noble; they might expect considerable fortunes; their father had hopes of attaining to very high rank indeed in his country’s service-all of which was satisfactory. All three of the girls were decidedly pretty, even the eldest, Alexandra, who was just twenty-five years old. The middle daughter was now twenty-three, while the youngest, Aglaya, was twenty. This youngest girl was absolutely a beauty, and had begun of late to attract considerable attention in society. But this was not all, for every one of the three was clever, well educated, and accomplished.

It was a matter of general knowledge that the three girls were very fond of one another, and supported each other in every way; it was even said that the two elder ones had made certain sacrifices for the sake of the idol of the household, Aglaya. In society they not only disliked asserting themselves, but were actually retiring. Certainly no one could blame them for being too arrogant or haughty, and yet everybody was well aware that they were proud and quite understood their own value. The eldest was musical, while the second was a clever artist, which fact she had concealed until lately. In a word, the world spoke well of the girls; but they were not without their enemies, and occasionally people talked with horror of the number of books they had read.

They were in no hurry to marry. They liked good society, but were not too keen about it. All this was the more remarkable, because everyone was well aware of the hopes and aims of their parents.

It was about eleven o’clock in the forenoon when the prince rang the bell at General Epanchin’s door. The general lived on the first floor or flat of the house, as modest a lodging as his position permitted. A liveried servant opened the door, and the prince was obliged to enter into long explanations with this gentleman, who, from the first glance, looked at him and his bundle with grave suspicion. At last, however, on the repeated positive assurance that he really was Prince Muishkin, and must absolutely see the general on business, the bewildered domestic showed him into a little ante-chamber leading to a waiting-room that adjoined the general’s study, there handing him over to another servant, whose duty it was to be in this ante-chamber all the morning, and announce visitors to the general. This second individual wore a dress coat, and was some forty years of age; he was the general’s special study servant, and well aware of his own importance.

“Wait in the next room, please; and leave your bundle here,” said the door-keeper, as he sat down comfortably in his own easy-chair in the ante-chamber. He looked at the prince in severe surprise as the latter settled himself in another chair alongside, with his bundle on his knees.

“If you don’t mind, I would rather sit here with you,” said the prince; “I should prefer it to sitting in there.”

“Oh, but you can’t stay here. You are a visitor—a guest, so to speak. Is it the general himself you wish to see?”

The man evidently could not take in the idea of such a shabby- looking visitor, and had decided to ask once more.

“Yes—I have business—” began the prince.

“I do not ask you what your business may be, all I have to do is to announce you; and unless the secretary comes in here I cannot do that.”

The man’s suspicions seemed to increase more and more. The prince was too unlike the usual run of daily visitors; and although the general certainly did receive, on business, all sorts and conditions of men, yet in spite of this fact the servant felt great doubts on the subject of this particular visitor. The presence of the secretary as an intermediary was, he judged, essential in this case.

“Surely you—are from abroad?” he inquired at last, in a confused sort of way. He had begun his sentence intending to say, “Surely you are not Prince Muishkin, are you?”

“Yes, straight from the train! Did not you intend to say, ‘Surely you are not Prince Muishkin?’ just now, but refrained out of politeness ?”

“H’m!” grunted the astonished servant.

“I assure you I am not deceiving you; you shall not have to answer for me. As to my being dressed like this, and carrying a bundle, there’s nothing surprising in that—the fact is, my circumstances are not particularly rosy at this moment.”

“H’m!—no, I’m not afraid of that, you see; I have to announce you, that’s all. The secretary will be out directly-that is, unless you—yes, that’s the rub—unless you—come, you must allow me to ask you—you’ve not come to beg, have you?”

“Oh dear no, you can be perfectly easy on that score. I have quite another matter on hand.”

“You must excuse my asking, you know. Your appearance led me to think—but just wait for the secretary; the general is busy now, but the secretary is sure to come out.”

“Oh—well, look here, if I have some time to wait, would you mind telling me, is there any place about where I could have a smoke? I have my pipe and tobacco with me.”

“SMOKE?” said the man, in shocked but disdainful surprise, blinking his eyes at the prince as though he could not believe his senses.” No, sir, you cannot smoke here, and I wonder you are not ashamed of the very suggestion. Ha, ha! a cool idea that, I declare!”

“Oh, I didn’t mean in this room! I know I can’t smoke here, of course. I’d adjourn to some other room, wherever you like to show me to. You see, I’m used to smoking a good deal, and now I haven’t had a puff for three hours; however, just as you like.”

“Now how on earth am I to announce a man like that?” muttered the servant. “In the first place, you’ve no right in here at all; you ought to be in the waiting-room, because you’re a sort of visitor—a guest, in fact—and I shall catch it for this. Look here, do you intend to take up you abode with us?” he added, glancing once more at the prince’s bundle, which evidently gave him no peace.

“No, I don’t think so. I don’t think I should stay even if they were to invite me. I’ve simply come to make their acquaintance, and nothing more.”

“Make their acquaintance?” asked the man, in amazement, and with redoubled suspicion. “Then why did you say you had business with the general?”

“Oh well, very little business. There is one little matter—some advice I am going to ask him for; but my principal object is simply to introduce myself, because I am Prince Muishkin, and Madame Epanchin is the last of her branch of the house, and besides herself and me there are no other Muishkins left.”

“What—you’re a relation then, are you?” asked the servant, so bewildered that he began to feel quite alarmed.

“Well, hardly so. If you stretch a point, we are relations, of course, but so distant that one cannot really take cognizance of it. I once wrote to your mistress from abroad, but she did not reply. However, I have thought it right to make acquaintance with her on my arrival. I am telling you all this in order to ease your mind, for I see you are still far from comfortable on my account. All you have to do is to announce me as Prince Muishkin, and the object of my visit will be plain enough. If I am received—very good; if not, well, very good again. But they are sure to receive me, I should think; Madame Epanchin will naturally be curious to see the only remaining representative of her family. She values her Muishkin descent very highly, if I am rightly informed.”

The prince’s conversation was artless and confiding to a degree, and the servant could not help feeling that as from visitor to common serving-man this state of things was highly improper. His conclusion was that one of two things must be the explanation— either that this was a begging impostor, or that the prince, if prince he were, was simply a fool, without the slightest ambition; for a sensible prince with any ambition would certainly not wait about in ante-rooms with servants, and talk of his own private affairs like this. In either case, how was he to announce this singular visitor?

“I really think I must request you to step into the next room!” he said, with all the insistence he could muster.

“Why? If I had been sitting there now, I should not have had the opportunity of making these personal explanations. I see you are still uneasy about me and keep eyeing my cloak and bundle. Don’t you think you might go in yourself now, without waiting for the secretary to come out?”

“No, no! I can’t announce a visitor like yourself without the secretary. Besides the general said he was not to be disturbed— he is with the Colonel C—. Gavrila Ardalionovitch goes in without announcing.”

“Who may that be? a clerk?”

“What? Gavrila Ardalionovitch? Oh no; he belongs to one of the companies. Look here, at all events put your bundle down, here.”

“Yes, I will if I may; and—can I take off my cloak”

“Of course; you can’t go in THERE with it on, anyhow.”

The prince rose and took off his mantle, revealing a neat enough morning costume—a little worn, but well made. He wore a steel watch chain and from this chain there hung a silver Geneva watch. Fool the prince might be, still, the general’s servant felt that it was not correct for him to continue to converse thus with a visitor, in spite of the fact that the prince pleased him somehow.

“And what time of day does the lady receive?” the latter asked, reseating himself in his old place.

“Oh, that’s not in my province! I believe she receives at any time; it depends upon the visitors. The dressmaker goes in at eleven. Gavrila Ardalionovitch is allowed much earlier than other people, too; he is even admitted to early lunch now and then.”

“It is much warmer in the rooms here than it is abroad at this season,” observed the prince; ” but it is much warmer there out of doors. As for the houses—a Russian can’t live in them in the winter until he gets accustomed to them.”

“Don’t they heat them at all?”

“Well, they do heat them a little; but the houses and stoves are so different to ours.”

“H’m! were you long away?”

“Four years! and I was in the same place nearly all the time,—in one village.”

“You must have forgotten Russia, hadn’t you?”

“Yes, indeed I had—a good deal; and, would you believe it, I often wonder at myself for not having forgotten how to speak Russian? Even now, as I talk to you, I keep saying to myself ‘how well I am speaking it.’ Perhaps that is partly why I am so talkative this morning. I assure you, ever since yesterday evening I have had the strongest desire to go on and on talking Russian.”

“H’m! yes; did you live in Petersburg in former years?”

This good flunkey, in spite of his conscientious scruples, really could not resist continuing such a very genteel and agreeable conversation.

“In Petersburg? Oh no! hardly at all, and now they say so much is changed in the place that even those who did know it well are obliged to relearn what they knew. They talk a good deal about the new law courts, and changes there, don’t they?”

“H’m! yes, that’s true enough. Well now, how is the law over there, do they administer it more justly than here?”

“Oh, I don’t know about that! I’ve heard much that is good about our legal administration, too. There is no capital punishment here for one thing.”

“Is there over there?”

“Yes—I saw an execution in France—at Lyons. Schneider took me over with him to see it.”

“What, did they hang the fellow?”

“No, they cut off people’s heads in France.”

“What did the fellow do?—yell?”

“Oh no—it’s the work of an instant. They put a man inside a frame and a sort of broad knife falls by machinery -they call the thing a guillotine-it falls with fearful force and weight-the head springs off so quickly that you can’t wink your eye in between. But all the preparations are so dreadful. When they announce the sentence, you know, and prepare the criminal and tie his hands, and cart him off to the scaffold—that’s the fearful part of the business. The people all crowd round—even women- though they don’t at all approve of women looking on.”

“No, it’s not a thing for women.”

“Of course not—of course not!—bah! The criminal was a fine intelligent fearless man; Le Gros was his name; and I may tell you—believe it or not, as you like—that when that man stepped upon the scaffold he CRIED, he did indeed,—he was as white as a bit of paper. Isn’t it a dreadful idea that he should have cried —cried! Whoever heard of a grown man crying from fear—not a child, but a man who never had cried before—a grown man of forty-five years. Imagine what must have been going on in that man’s mind at such a moment; what dreadful convulsions his whole spirit must have endured; it is an outrage on the soul that’s what it is. Because it is said ‘thou shalt not kill,’ is he to be killed because he murdered some one else? No, it is not right, it’s an impossible theory. I assure you, I saw the sight a month ago and it’s dancing before my eyes to this moment. I dream of it, often.”

The prince had grown animated as he spoke, and a tinge of colour suffused his pale face, though his way of talking was as quiet as ever. The servant followed his words with sympathetic interest. Clearly he was not at all anxious to bring the conversation to an end. Who knows? Perhaps he too was a man of imagination and with some capacity for thought.

“Well, at all events it is a good thing that there’s no pain when the poor fellow’s head flies off,” he remarked.

“Do you know, though,” cried the prince warmly, “you made that remark now, and everyone says the same thing, and the machine is designed with the purpose of avoiding pain, this guillotine I mean; but a thought came into my head then: what if it be a bad plan after all? You may laugh at my idea, perhaps—but I could not help its occurring to me all the same. Now with the rack and tortures and so on—you suffer terrible pain of course; but then your torture is bodily pain only (although no doubt you have plenty of that) until you die. But HERE I should imagine the most terrible part of the whole punishment is, not the bodily pain at all—but the certain knowledge that in an hour,—then in ten minutes, then in half a minute, then now—this very INSTANT—your soul must quit your body and that you will no longer be a man— and that this is certain, CERTAIN! That’s the point—the certainty of it. Just that instant when you place your head on the block and hear the iron grate over your head—then—that quarter of a second is the most awful of all.

“This is not my own fantastical opinion—many people have thought the same; but I feel it so deeply that I’ll tell you what I think. I believe that to execute a man for murder is to punish him immeasurably more dreadfully than is equivalent to his crime. A murder by sentence is far more dreadful than a murder committed by a criminal. The man who is attacked by robbers at night, in a dark wood, or anywhere, undoubtedly hopes and hopes that he may yet escape until the very moment of his death. There are plenty of instances of a man running away, or imploring for mercy—at all events hoping on in some degree—even after his throat was cut. But in the case of an execution, that last hope—having which it is so immeasurably less dreadful to die,—is taken away from the wretch and CERTAINTY substituted in its place! There is his sentence, and with it that terrible certainty that he cannot possibly escape death—which, I consider, must be the most dreadful anguish in the world. You may place a soldier before a cannon’s mouth in battle, and fire upon him—and he will still hope. But read to that same soldier his death-sentence, and he will either go mad or burst into tears. Who dares to say that any man can suffer this without going mad? No, no! it is an abuse, a shame, it is unnecessary—why should such a thing exist? Doubtless there may be men who have been sentenced, who have suffered this mental anguish for a while and then have been reprieved; perhaps such men may have been able to relate their feelings afterwards. Our Lord Christ spoke of this anguish and dread. No! no! no! No man should be treated so, no man, no man!”

The servant, though of course he could not have expressed all this as the prince did, still clearly entered into it and was greatly conciliated, as was evident from the increased amiability of his expression. “If you are really very anxious for a smoke,” he remarked, “I think it might possibly be managed, if you are very quick about it. You see they might come out and inquire for you, and you wouldn’t be on the spot. You see that door there? Go in there and you’ll find a little room on the right; you can smoke there, only open the window, because I ought not to allow it really, and—.” But there was no time, after all.

A young fellow entered the ante-room at this moment, with a bundle of papers in his hand. The footman hastened to help him take off his overcoat. The new arrival glanced at the prince out of the corners of his eyes.

“This gentleman declares, Gavrila Ardalionovitch,” began the man, confidentially and almost familiarly, “that he is Prince Muishkin and a relative of Madame Epanchin’s. He has just arrived from abroad, with nothing but a bundle by way of luggage—.”

The prince did not hear the rest, because at this point the servant continued his communication in a whisper.

Gavrila Ardalionovitch listened attentively, and gazed at the prince with great curiosity. At last he motioned the man aside and stepped hurriedly towards the prince.

“Are you Prince Muishkin?” he asked, with the greatest courtesy and amiability.

He was a remarkably handsome young fellow of some twenty-eight summers, fair and of middle height; he wore a small beard, and his face was most intelligent. Yet his smile, in spite of its sweetness, was a little thin, if I may so call it, and showed his teeth too evenly; his gaze though decidedly good-humoured and ingenuous, was a trifle too inquisitive and intent to be altogether agreeable.

“Probably when he is alone he looks quite different, and hardly smiles at all!” thought the prince.

He explained about himself in a few words, very much the same as he had told the footman and Rogojin beforehand.

Gavrila Ardalionovitch meanwhile seemed to be trying to recall something.

“Was it not you, then, who sent a letter a year or less ago—from Switzerland, I think it was—to Elizabetha Prokofievna (Mrs. Epanchin)?”

“It was.”

“Oh, then, of course they will remember who you are. You wish to see the general? I’ll tell him at once—he will be free in a minute; but you—you had better wait in the ante-chamber,—hadn’t you? Why is he here?” he added, severely, to the man.

“I tell you, sir, he wished it himself!”

At this moment the study door opened, and a military man, with a portfolio under his arm, came out talking loudly, and after bidding good-bye to someone inside, took his departure.

“You there, Gania? cried a voice from the study, “come in here, will you?”

Gavrila Ardalionovitch nodded to the prince and entered the room hastily.

A couple of minutes later the door opened again and the affable voice of Gania cried:

“Come in please, prince!”


General Ivan Fedorovitch Epanchin was standing In the middle of the room, and gazed with great curiosity at the prince as he entered. He even advanced a couple of steps to meet him.

The prince came forward and introduced himself.

“Quite so,” replied the general, “and what can I do for you?”

“Oh, I have no special business; my principal object was to make your acquaintance. I should not like to disturb you. I do not know your times and arrangements here, you see, but I have only just arrived. I came straight from the station. I am come direct from Switzerland.”

The general very nearly smiled, but thought better of it and kept his smile back. Then he reflected, blinked his eyes, stared at his guest once more from head to foot; then abruptly motioned him to a chair, sat down himself, and waited with some impatience for the prince to speak.

Gania stood at his table in the far corner of the room, turning over papers.

“I have not much time for making acquaintances, as a rule,” said the general, “but as, of course, you have your object in coming, I—”

“I felt sure you would think I had some object in view when I resolved to pay you this visit,” the prince interrupted; “but I give you my word, beyond the pleasure of making your acquaintance I had no personal object whatever.”

“The pleasure is, of course, mutual; but life is not all pleasure, as you are aware. There is such a thing as business, and I really do not see what possible reason there can be, or what we have in common to—”

“Oh, there is no reason, of course, and I suppose there is nothing in common between us, or very little; for if I am Prince Muishkin, and your wife happens to be a member of my house, that can hardly be called a ‘reason.’ I quite understand that. And yet that was my whole motive for coming. You see I have not been in Russia for four years, and knew very little about anything when I left. I had been very ill for a long time, and I feel now the need of a few good friends. In fact, I have a certain question upon which I much need advice, and do not know whom to go to for it. I thought of your family when I was passing through Berlin. ‘They are almost relations,’ I said to myself,’ so I’ll begin with them; perhaps we may get on with each other, I with them and they with me, if they are kind people;’ and I have heard that you are very kind people!”

“Oh, thank you, thank you, I’m sure,” replied the general, considerably taken aback. “May I ask where you have taken up your quarters?”

“Nowhere, as yet.”

“What, straight from the station to my house? And how about your luggage?”

“I only had a small bundle, containing linen, with me, nothing more. I can carry it in my hand, easily. There will be plenty of time to take a room in some hotel by the evening.”

“Oh, then you DO intend to take a room?”

“Of course.”

“To judge from your words, you came straight to my house with the intention of staying there.”

“That could only have been on your invitation. I confess, however, that I should not have stayed here even if you had invited me, not for any particular reason, but because it is— well, contrary to my practice and nature, somehow.”

“Oh, indeed! Then it is perhaps as well that I neither DID invite you, nor DO invite you now. Excuse me, prince, but we had better make this matter clear, once for all. We have just agreed that with regard to our relationship there is not much to be said, though, of course, it would have been very delightful to us to feel that such relationship did actually exist; therefore, perhaps—”

“Therefore, perhaps I had better get up and go away?” said the prince, laughing merrily as he rose from his place; just as merrily as though the circumstances were by no means strained or difficult. “And I give you my word, general, that though I know nothing whatever of manners and customs of society, and how people live and all that, yet I felt quite sure that this visit of mine would end exactly as it has ended now. Oh, well, I suppose it’s all right; especially as my letter was not answered. Well, good-bye, and forgive me for having disturbed you!”

The prince’s expression was so good-natured at this moment, and so entirely free from even a suspicion of unpleasant feeling was the smile with which he looked at the general as he spoke, that the latter suddenly paused, and appeared to gaze at his guest from quite a new point of view, all in an instant.

“Do you know, prince,” he said, in quite a different tone, “I do not know you at all, yet, and after all, Elizabetha Prokofievna would very likely be pleased to have a peep at a man of her own name. Wait a little, if you don’t mind, and if you have time to spare?”

“Oh, I assure you I’ve lots of time, my time is entirely my own!” And the prince immediately replaced his soft, round hat on the table. “I confess, I thought Elizabetha Prokofievna would very likely remember that I had written her a letter. Just now your servant—outside there—was dreadfully suspicious that I had come to beg of you. I noticed that! Probably he has very strict instructions on that score; but I assure you I did not come to beg. I came to make some friends. But I am rather bothered at having disturbed you; that’s all I care about.—”

“Look here, prince,” said the general, with a cordial smile, “if you really are the sort of man you appear to be, it may be a source of great pleasure to us to make your better acquaintance; but, you see, I am a very busy man, and have to be perpetually sitting here and signing papers, or off to see his excellency, or to my department, or somewhere; so that though I should be glad to see more of people, nice people—you see, I—however, I am sure you are so well brought up that you will see at once, and— but how old are you, prince?”


“No? I thought you very much younger.”

“Yes, they say I have a ‘young’ face. As to disturbing you I shall soon learn to avoid doing that, for I hate disturbing people. Besides, you and I are so differently constituted, I should think, that there must be very little in common between us. Not that I will ever believe there is NOTHING in common between any two people, as some declare is the case. I am sure people make a great mistake in sorting each other into groups, by appearances; but I am boring you, I see, you—”

“Just two words: have you any means at all? Or perhaps you may be intending to undertake some sort of employment? Excuse my questioning you, but—”

“Oh, my dear sir, I esteem and understand your kindness in putting the question. No; at present I have no means whatever, and no employment either, but I hope to find some. I was living on other people abroad. Schneider, the professor who treated me and taught me, too, in Switzerland, gave me just enough money for my journey, so that now I have but a few copecks left. There certainly is one question upon which I am anxious to have advice, but—”

“Tell me, how do you intend to live now, and what are your plans?” interrupted the general.

“I wish to work, somehow or other.”

“Oh yes, but then, you see, you are a philosopher. Have you any talents, or ability in any direction—that is, any that would bring in money and bread? Excuse me again—”

“Oh, don’t apologize. No, I don’t think I have either talents or special abilities of any kind; on the contrary. I have always been an invalid and unable to learn much. As for bread, I should think—”

The general interrupted once more with questions; while the prince again replied with the narrative we have heard before. It appeared that the general had known Pavlicheff; but why the latter had taken an interest in the prince, that young gentleman could not explain; probably by virtue of the old friendship with his father, he thought.

The prince had been left an orphan when quite a little child, and Pavlicheff had entrusted him to an old lady, a relative of his own, living in the country, the child needing the fresh air and exercise of country life. He was educated, first by a governess, and afterwards by a tutor, but could not remember much about this time of his life. His fits were so frequent then, that they made almost an idiot of him (the prince used the expression “idiot” himself). Pavlicheff had met Professor Schneider in Berlin, and the latter had persuaded him to send the boy to Switzerland, to Schneider’s establishment there, for the cure of his epilepsy, and, five years before this time, the prince was sent off. But Pavlicheff had died two or three years since, and Schneider had himself supported the young fellow, from that day to this, at his own expense. Although he had not quite cured him, he had greatly improved his condition; and now, at last, at the prince’s own desire, and because of a certain matter which came to the ears of the latter, Schneider had despatched the young man to Russia.

The general was much astonished.

“Then you have no one, absolutely NO one in Russia?” he asked.

“No one, at present; but I hope to make friends; and then I have a letter from—”

“At all events,” put in the general, not listening to the news about the letter, “at all events, you must have learned SOMETHING, and your malady would not prevent your undertaking some easy work, in one of the departments, for instance?

“Oh dear no, oh no! As for a situation, I should much like to find one for I am anxious to discover what I really am fit for. I have learned a good deal in the last four years, and, besides, I read a great many Russian books.”

“Russian books, indeed ? Then, of course, you can read and write quite correctly?”

“Oh dear, yes!”

“Capital! And your handwriting?”

“Ah, there I am REALLY talented! I may say l am a real caligraphist. Let me write you something, just to show you,” said the prince, with some excitement.

“With pleasure! In fact, it is very necessary. I like your readiness, prince; in fact, I must say—I-I-like you very well, altogether,” said the general.

“What delightful writing materials you have here, such a lot of pencils and things, and what beautiful paper! It’s a charming room altogether. I know that picture, it’s a Swiss view. I’m sure the artist painted it from nature, and that I have seen the very place—”

“Quite likely, though I bought it here. Gania, give the prince some paper. Here are pens and paper; now then, take this table. What’s this?” the general continued to Gania, who had that moment taken a large photograph out of his portfolio, and shown it to his senior. “Halloa! Nastasia Philipovna! Did she send it you herself? Herself?” he inquired, with much curiosity and great animation.

“She gave it me just now, when I called in to congratulate her. I asked her for it long ago. I don’t know whether she meant it for a hint that I had come empty-handed, without a present for her birthday, or what,” added Gania, with an unpleasant smile.

“Oh, nonsense, nonsense,” said the general, with decision. ” What extraordinary ideas you have, Gania! As if she would hint; that’s not her way at all. Besides, what could you give her, without having thousands at your disposal? You might have given her your portrait, however. Has she ever asked you for it?”

“No, not yet. Very likely she never will. I suppose you haven’t forgotten about tonight, have you, Ivan Fedorovitch? You were one of those specially invited, you know.”

“Oh no, I remember all right, and I shall go, of course. I should think so! She’s twenty-five years old today! And, you know, Gania, you must be ready for great things; she has promised both myself and Afanasy Ivanovitch that she will give a decided answer tonight, yes or no. So be prepared!”

Gania suddenly became so ill at ease that his face grew paler than ever.

“Are you sure she said that?” he asked, and his voice seemed to quiver as he spoke.

“Yes, she promised. We both worried her so that she gave in; but she wished us to tell you nothing about it until the day. “

The general watched Gania’s confusion intently, and clearly did not like it.

“Remember, Ivan Fedorovitch,” said Gania, in great agitation, “that I was to be free too, until her decision; and that even then I was to have my ‘yes or no’ free.”

“Why, don’t you, aren’t you—” began the general, in alarm.

“Oh, don’t misunderstand—”

“But, my dear fellow, what are you doing, what do you mean?”

“Oh, I’m not rejecting her. I may have expressed myself badly, but I didn’t mean that.”

“Reject her! I should think not!” said the general with annoyance, and apparently not in the least anxious to conceal it. “Why, my dear fellow, it’s not a question of your rejecting her, it is whether you are prepared to receive her consent joyfully, and with proper satisfaction. How are things going on at home?”

“At home? Oh, I can do as I like there, of course; only my father will make a fool of himself, as usual. He is rapidly becoming a general nuisance. I don’t ever talk to him now, but I hold him in cheek, safe enough. I swear if it had not been for my mother, I should have shown him the way out, long ago. My mother is always crying, of course, and my sister sulks. I had to tell them at last that I intended to be master of my own destiny, and that I expect to be obeyed at home. At least, I gave my sister to understand as much, and my mother was present.”

“Well, I must say, I cannot understand it!” said the general, shrugging his shoulders and dropping his hands. “You remember your mother, Nina Alexandrovna, that day she came and sat here and groaned-and when I asked her what was the matter, she says, ‘Oh, it’s such a DISHONOUR to us!’ dishonour! Stuff and nonsense! I should like to know who can reproach Nastasia Philipovna, or who can say a word of any kind against her. Did she mean because Nastasia had been living with Totski? What nonsense it is! You would not let her come near your daughters, says Nina Alexandrovna. What next, I wonder? I don’t see how she can fail to—to understand—”

“Her own position?” prompted Gania. “She does understand. Don’t be annoyed with her. I have warned her not to meddle in other people’s affairs. However, although there’s comparative peace at home at present, the storm will break if anything is finally settled tonight.”

The prince heard the whole of the foregoing conversation, as he sat at the table, writing. He finished at last, and brought the result of his labour to the general’s desk.

“So this is Nastasia Philipovna,” he said, looking attentively and curiously at the portrait. “How wonderfully beautiful!” he immediately added, with warmth. The picture was certainly that of an unusually lovely woman. She was photographed in a black silk dress of simple design, her hair was evidently dark and plainly arranged, her eyes were deep and thoughtful, the expression of her face passionate, but proud. She was rather thin, perhaps, and a little pale. Both Gania and the general gazed at the prince in amazement.

“How do you know it’s Nastasia Philipovna?” asked the general; “you surely don’t know her already, do you? “

“Yes, I do! I have only been one day in Russia, but I have heard of the great beauty!” And the prince proceeded to narrate his meeting with Rogojin in the train and the whole of the latter’s story.

“There’s news!” said the general in some excitement, after listening to the story with engrossed attention.

“Oh, of course it’s nothing but humbug!” cried Gania, a little disturbed, however. “It’s all humbug; the young merchant was pleased to indulge in a little innocent recreation! I have heard something of Rogojin!”

“Yes, so have I!” replied the general. “Nastasia Philipovna told us all about the earrings that very day. But now it is quite a different matter. You see the fellow really has a million of roubles, and he is passionately in love. The whole story smells of passion, and we all know what this class of gentry is capable of when infatuated. I am much afraid of some disagreeable scandal, I am indeed!”

“You are afraid of the million, I suppose,” said Gania, grinning and showing his teeth.

“And you are NOT, I presume, eh?”

“How did he strike you, prince?” asked Gania, suddenly. “Did he seem to be a serious sort of a man, or just a common rowdy fellow? What was your own opinion about the matter?”

While Gania put this question, a new idea suddenly flashed into his brain, and blazed out, impatiently, in his eyes. The general, who was really agitated and disturbed, looked at the prince too, but did not seem to expect much from his reply.

“I really don’t quite know how to tell you,” replied the prince, “but it certainly did seem to me that the man was full of passion, and not, perhaps, quite healthy passion. He seemed to be still far from well. Very likely he will be in bed again in a day or two, especially if he lives fast.”

“No! do you think so?” said the general, catching at the idea.

“Yes, I do think so!”

“Yes, but the sort of scandal I referred to may happen at any moment. It may be this very evening,” remarked Gania to the general, with a smile.

“Of course; quite so. In that case it all depends upon what is going on in her brain at this moment.”

“You know the kind of person she is at times.”

“How? What kind of person is she?” cried the general, arrived at the limits of his patience. Look here, Gania, don’t you go annoying her tonight What you are to do is to be as agreeable towards her as ever you can. Well, what are you smiling at? You must understand, Gania, that I have no interest whatever in speaking like this. Whichever way the question is settled, it will be to my advantage. Nothing will move Totski from his resolution, so I run no risk. If there is anything I desire, you must know that it is your benefit only. Can’t you trust me? You are a sensible fellow, and I have been counting on you; for, in this matter, that, that—”

“Yes, that’s the chief thing,” said Gania, helping the general out of his difficulties again, and curling his lips in an envenomed smile, which he did not attempt to conceal. He gazed with his fevered eyes straight into those of the general, as though he were anxious that the latter might read his thoughts.

The general grew purple with anger.

“Yes, of course it is the chief thing!” he cried, looking sharply at Gania. “What a very curious man you are, Gania! You actually seem to be GLAD to hear of this millionaire fellow’s arrival- just as though you wished for an excuse to get out of the whole thing. This is an affair in which you ought to act honestly with both sides, and give due warning, to avoid compromising others. But, even now, there is still time. Do you understand me? I wish to know whether you desire this arrangement or whether you do not? If not, say so,—and-and welcome! No one is trying to force you into the snare, Gavrila Ardalionovitch, if you see a snare in the matter, at least.”

“I do desire it,” murmured Gania, softly but firmly, lowering his eyes; and he relapsed into gloomy silence.

The general was satisfied. He had excited himself, and was evidently now regretting that he had gone so far. He turned to the prince, and suddenly the disagreeable thought of the latter’s presence struck him, and the certainty that he must have heard every word of the conversation. But he felt at ease in another moment; it only needed one glance at the prince to see that in that quarter there was nothing to fear.

“Oh!” cried the general, catching sight of the prince’s specimen of caligraphy, which the latter had now handed him for inspection. “Why, this is simply beautiful; look at that, Gania, there’s real talent there!”

On a sheet of thick writing-paper the prince had written in medieval characters the legend:

“The gentle Abbot Pafnute signed this.”

“There,” explained the prince, with great delight and animation, “there, that’s the abbot’s real signature—from a manuscript of the fourteenth century. All these old abbots and bishops used to write most beautifully, with such taste and so much care and diligence. Have you no copy of Pogodin, general? If you had one I could show you another type. Stop a bit—here you have the large round writing common in France during the eighteenth century. Some of the letters are shaped quite differently from those now in use. It was the writing current then, and employed by public writers generally. I copied this from one of them, and you can see how good it is. Look at the well-rounded a and d. I have tried to translate the French character into the Russian letters- -a difficult thing to do, but I think I have succeeded fairly. Here is a fine sentence, written in a good, original hand—‘Zeal triumphs over all.’ That is the script of the Russian War Office. That is how official documents addressed to important personages should be written. The letters are round, the type black, and the style somewhat remarkable. A stylist would not allow these ornaments, or attempts at flourishes—just look at these unfinished tails!—but it has distinction and really depicts the soul of the writer. He would like to give play to his imagination, and follow the inspiration of his genius, but a soldier is only at ease in the guard-room, and the pen stops half-way, a slave to discipline. How delightful! The first time I met an example of this handwriting, I was positively astonished, and where do you think I chanced to find it? In Switzerland, of all places! Now that is an ordinary English hand. It can hardly be improved, it is so refined and exquisite—almost perfection. This is an example of another kind, a mixture of styles. The copy was given me by a French commercial traveller. It is founded on the English, but the downstrokes are a little blacker, and more marked. Notice that the oval has some slight modification—it is more rounded. This writing allows for flourishes; now a flourish is a dangerous thing! Its use requires such taste, but, if successful, what a distinction it gives to the whole! It results in an incomparable type—one to fall in love with!”

“Dear me! How you have gone into all the refinements and details of the question! Why, my dear fellow, you are not a caligraphist, you are an artist! Eh, Gania ?”

“Wonderful!” said Gania. “And he knows it too,” he added, with a sarcastic smile.

“You may smile,—but there’s a career in this,” said the general. “You don’t know what a great personage I shall show this to, prince. Why, you can command a situation at thirty-five roubles per month to start with. However, it’s half-past twelve,” he concluded, looking at his watch; “so to business, prince, for I must be setting to work and shall not see you again today. Sit down a minute. I have told you that I cannot receive you myself very often, but I should like to be of some assistance to you, some small assistance, of a kind that would give you satisfaction. I shall find you a place in one of the State departments, an easy place—but you will require to be accurate. Now, as to your plans—in the house, or rather in the family of Gania here—my young friend, whom I hope you will know better—his mother and sister have prepared two or three rooms for lodgers, and let them to highly recommended young fellows, with board and attendance. I am sure Nina Alexandrovna will take you in on my recommendation. There you will be comfortable and well taken care of; for I do not think, prince, that you are the sort of man to be left to the mercy of Fate in a town like Petersburg. Nina Alexandrovna, Gania’s mother, and Varvara Alexandrovna, are ladies for whom I have the highest possible esteem and respect. Nina Alexandrovna is the wife of General Ardalion Alexandrovitch, my old brother in arms, with whom, I regret to say, on account of certain circumstances, I am no longer acquainted. I give you all this information, prince, in order to make it clear to you that I am personally recommending you to this family, and that in so doing, I am more or less taking upon myself to answer for you. The terms are most reasonable, and I trust that your salary will very shortly prove amply sufficient for your expenditure. Of course pocket-money is a necessity, if only a little; do not be angry, prince, if I strongly recommend you to avoid carrying money in your pocket. But as your purse is quite empty at the present moment, you must allow me to press these twenty-five roubles upon your acceptance, as something to begin with. Of course we will settle this little matter another time, and if you are the upright, honest man you look, I anticipate very little trouble between us on that score. Taking so much interest in you as you may perceive I do, I am not without my object, and you shall know it in good time. You see, I am perfectly candid with you. I hope, Gania, you have nothing to say against the prince’s taking up his abode in your house?”

“Oh, on the contrary! my mother will be very glad,” said Gania, courteously and kindly.

“I think only one of your rooms is engaged as yet, is it not? That fellow Ferd-Ferd—”


“Yes—I don’t like that Ferdishenko. I can’t understand why Nastasia Philipovna encourages him so. Is he really her cousin, as he says?”

“Oh dear no, it’s all a joke. No more cousin than I am.”

“Well, what do you think of the arrangement, prince?”

“Thank you, general; you have behaved very kindly to me; all the more so since I did not ask you to help me. I don’t say that out of pride. I certainly did not know where to lay my head tonight. Rogojin asked me to come to his house, of course, but—”

“Rogojin? No, no, my good fellow. I should strongly recommend you, paternally,—or, if you prefer it, as a friend,—to forget all about Rogojin, and, in fact, to stick to the family into which you are about to enter.”

“Thank you,” began the prince; “and since you are so very kind there is just one matter which I—”

“You must really excuse me,” interrupted the general, “but I positively haven’t another moment now. I shall just tell Elizabetha Prokofievna about you, and if she wishes to receive you at once—as I shall advise her—I strongly recommend you to ingratiate yourself with her at the first opportunity, for my wife may be of the greatest service to you in many ways. If she cannot receive you now, you must be content to wait till another time. Meanwhile you, Gania, just look over these accounts, will you? We mustn’t forget to finish off that matter—”

The general left the room, and the prince never succeeded in broaching the business which he had on hand, though he had endeavoured to do so four times.

Gania lit a cigarette and offered one to the prince. The latter accepted the offer, but did not talk, being unwilling to disturb Gania’s work. He commenced to examine the study and its contents. But Gania hardly so much as glanced at the papers lying before him; he was absent and thoughtful, and his smile and general appearance struck the prince still more disagreeably now that the two were left alone together.

Suddenly Gania approached our hero who was at the moment standing over Nastasia Philipovna’s portrait, gazing at it.

“Do you admire that sort of woman, prince?” he asked, looking intently at him. He seemed to have some special object in the question.

“It’s a wonderful face,” said the prince, “and I feel sure that her destiny is not by any means an ordinary, uneventful one. Her face is smiling enough, but she must have suffered terribly— hasn’t she? Her eyes show it—those two bones there, the little points under her eyes, just where the cheek begins. It’s a proud face too, terribly proud! And I—I can’t say whether she is good and kind, or not. Oh, if she be but good! That would make all well!”

“And would you marry a woman like that, now?” continued Gania, never taking his excited eyes off the prince’s face.

“I cannot marry at all,” said the latter. “I am an invalid.”

“Would Rogojin marry her, do you think?”

“Why not? Certainly he would, I should think. He would marry her tomorrow!—marry her tomorrow and murder her in a week!”

Hardly had the prince uttered the last word when Gania gave such a fearful shudder that the prince almost cried out.

“What’s the matter?” said he, seizing Gania’s hand.

“Your highness! His excellency begs your presence in her excellency’s apartments!” announced the footman, appearing at the door.

The prince immediately followed the man out of the room.


ALL three of the Miss Epanchins were fine, healthy girls, well- grown, with good shoulders and busts, and strong—almost masculine—hands; and, of course, with all the above attributes, they enjoyed capital appetites, of which they were not in the least ashamed.

Elizabetha Prokofievna sometimes informed the girls that they were a little too candid in this matter, but in spite of their outward deference to their mother these three young women, in solemn conclave, had long agreed to modify the unquestioning obedience which they had been in the habit of according to her; and Mrs. General Epanchin had judged it better to say nothing about it, though, of course, she was well aware of the fact.

It is true that her nature sometimes rebelled against these dictates of reason, and that she grew yearly more capricious and impatient; but having a respectful and well-disciplined husband under her thumb at all times, she found it possible, as a rule, to empty any little accumulations of spleen upon his head, and therefore the harmony of the family was kept duly balanced, and things went as smoothly as family matters can.

Mrs. Epanchin had a fair appetite herself, and generally took her share of the capital mid-day lunch which was always served for the girls, and which was nearly as good as a dinner. The young ladies used to have a cup of coffee each before this meal, at ten o’clock, while still in bed. This was a favourite and unalterable arrangement with them. At half-past twelve, the table was laid in the small dining-room, and occasionally the general himself appeared at the family gathering, if he had time.

Besides tea and coffee, cheese, honey, butter, pan-cakes of various kinds (the lady of the house loved these best), cutlets, and so on, there was generally strong beef soup, and other substantial delicacies.

On the particular morning on which our story has opened, the family had assembled in the dining-room, and were waiting the general’s appearance, the latter having promised to come this day. If he had been one moment late, he would have been sent for at once; but he turned up punctually.

As he came forward to wish his wife good-morning and kiss her hands, as his custom was, he observed something in her look which boded ill. He thought he knew the reason, and had expected it, but still, he was not altogether comfortable. His daughters advanced to kiss him, too, and though they did not look exactly angry, there was something strange in their expression as well.

The general was, owing to certain circumstances, a little inclined to be too suspicious at home, and needlessly nervous; but, as an experienced father and husband, he judged it better to take measures at once to protect himself from any dangers there might be in the air.

However, I hope I shall not interfere with the proper sequence of my narrative too much, if I diverge for a moment at this point, in order to explain the mutual relations between General Epanchin’s family and others acting a part in this history, at the time when we take up the thread of their destiny. I have already stated that the general, though he was a man of lowly origin, and of poor education, was, for all that, an experienced and talented husband and father. Among other things, he considered it undesirable to hurry his daughters to the matrimonial altar and to worry them too much with assurances of his paternal wishes for their happiness, as is the custom among parents of many grown-up daughters. He even succeeded in ranging his wife on his side on this question, though he found the feat very difficult to accomplish, because unnatural; but the general’s arguments were conclusive, and founded upon obvious facts. The general considered that the girls’ taste and good sense should be allowed to develop and mature deliberately, and that the parents’ duty should merely be to keep watch, in order that no strange or undesirable choice be made; but that the selection once effected, both father and mother were bound from that moment to enter heart and soul into the cause, and to see that the matter progressed without hindrance until the altar should be happily reached.

Besides this, it was clear that the Epanchins’ position gained each year, with geometrical accuracy, both as to financial solidity and social weight; and, therefore, the longer the girls waited, the better was their chance of making a brilliant match.

But again, amidst the incontrovertible facts just recorded, one more, equally significant, rose up to confront the family; and this was, that the eldest daughter, Alexandra, had imperceptibly arrived at her twenty-fifth birthday. Almost at the same moment, Afanasy Ivanovitch Totski, a man of immense wealth, high connections, and good standing, announced his intention of marrying. Afanasy Ivanovitch was a gentleman of fifty-five years of age, artistically gifted, and of most refined tastes. He wished to marry well, and, moreover, he was a keen admirer and judge of beauty.

Now, since Totski had, of late, been upon terms of great cordiality with Epanchin, which excellent relations were intensified by the fact that they were, so to speak, partners in several financial enterprises, it so happened that the former now put in a friendly request to the general for counsel with regard to the important step he meditated. Might he suggest, for instance, such a thing as a marriage between himself and one of the general’s daughters?

Evidently the quiet, pleasant current of the family life of the Epanchins was about to undergo a change.

The undoubted beauty of the family, par excellence, was the youngest, Aglaya, as aforesaid. But Totski himself, though an egotist of the extremest type, realized that he had no chance there; Aglaya was clearly not for such as he.

Perhaps the sisterly love and friendship of the three girls had more or less exaggerated Aglaya’s chances of happiness. In their opinion, the latter’s destiny was not merely to be very happy; she was to live in a heaven on earth. Aglaya’s husband was to be a compendium of all the virtues, and of all success, not to speak of fabulous wealth. The two elder sisters had agreed that all was to be sacrificed by them, if need be, for Aglaya’s sake; her dowry was to be colossal and unprecedented.

The general and his wife were aware of this agreement, and, therefore, when Totski suggested himself for one of the sisters, the parents made no doubt that one of the two elder girls would probably accept the offer, since Totski would certainly make no difficulty as to dowry. The general valued the proposal very highly. He knew life, and realized what such an offer was worth.

The answer of the sisters to the communication was, if not conclusive, at least consoling and hopeful. It made known that the eldest, Alexandra, would very likely be disposed to listen to a proposal.

Alexandra was a good-natured girl, though she had a will of her own. She was intelligent and kind-hearted, and, if she were to marry Totski, she would make him a good wife. She did not care for a brilliant marriage; she was eminently a woman calculated to soothe and sweeten the life of any man; decidedly pretty, if not absolutely handsome. What better could Totski wish?

So the matter crept slowly forward. The general and Totski had agreed to avoid any hasty and irrevocable step. Alexandra’s parents had not even begun to talk to their daughters freely upon the subject, when suddenly, as it were, a dissonant chord was struck amid the harmony of the proceedings. Mrs. Epanchin began to show signs of discontent, and that was a serious matter. A certain circumstance had crept in, a disagreeable and troublesome factor, which threatened to overturn the whole business.

This circumstance had come into existence eighteen years before. Close to an estate of Totski’s, in one of the central provinces of Russia, there lived, at that time, a poor gentleman whose estate was of the wretchedest description. This gentleman was noted in the district for his persistent ill-fortune; his name was Barashkoff, and, as regards family and descent, he was vastly superior to Totski, but his estate was mortgaged to the last acre. One day, when he had ridden over to the town to see a creditor, the chief peasant of his village followed him shortly after, with the news that his house had been burnt down, and that his wife had perished with it, but his children were safe.

Even Barashkoff, inured to the storms of evil fortune as he was, could not stand this last stroke. He went mad and died shortly after in the town hospital. His estate was sold for the creditors; and the little girls—two of them, of seven and eight years of age respectively,—were adopted by Totski, who undertook their maintenance and education in the kindness of his heart. They were brought up together with the children of his German bailiff. Very soon, however, there was only one of them left- Nastasia Philipovna—for the other little one died of whooping- cough. Totski, who was living abroad at this time, very soon forgot all about the child; but five years after, returning to Russia, it struck him that he would like to look over his estate and see how matters were going there, and, arrived at his bailiff’s house, he was not long in discovering that among the children of the latter there now dwelt a most lovely little girl of twelve, sweet and intelligent, and bright, and promising to develop beauty of most unusual quality-as to which last Totski was an undoubted authority.

He only stayed at his country scat a few days on this occasion, but he had time to make his arrangements. Great changes took place in the child’s education; a good governess was engaged, a Swiss lady of experience and culture. For four years this lady resided in the house with little Nastia, and then the education was considered complete. The governess took her departure, and another lady came down to fetch Nastia, by Totski’s instructions. The child was now transported to another of Totski’s estates in a distant part of the country. Here she found a delightful little house, just built, and prepared for her reception with great care and taste; and here she took up her abode together with the lady who had accompanied her from her old home. In the house there were two experienced maids, musical instruments of all sorts, a charming “young lady’s library,” pictures, paint-boxes, a lap- dog, and everything to make life agreeable. Within a fortnight Totski himself arrived, and from that time he appeared to have taken a great fancy to this part of the world and came down each summer, staying two and three months at a time. So passed four years peacefully and happily, in charming surroundings.

At the end of that time, and about four months after Totski’s last visit (he had stayed but a fortnight on this occasion), a report reached Nastasia Philipovna that he was about to be married in St. Petersburg, to a rich, eminent, and lovely woman. The report was only partially true, the marriage project being only in an embryo condition; but a great change now came over Nastasia Philipovna. She suddenly displayed unusual decision of character; and without wasting time in thought, she left her country home and came up to St. Petersburg, straight to Totski’s house, all alone.

The latter, amazed at her conduct, began to express his displeasure; but he very soon became aware that he must change his voice, style, and everything else, with this young lady; the good old times were gone. An entirely new and different woman sat before him, between whom and the girl he had left in the country last July there seemed nothing in common.

In the first place, this new woman understood a good deal more than was usual for young people of her age; so much indeed, that Totski could not help wondering where she had picked up her knowledge. Surely not from her “young lady’s library”? It even embraced legal matters, and the “world” in general, to a considerable extent.

Her character was absolutely changed. No more of the girlish alternations of timidity and petulance, the adorable naivete, the reveries, the tears, the playfulness… It was an entirely new and hitherto unknown being who now sat and laughed at him, and informed him to his face that she had never had the faintest feeling for him of any kind, except loathing and contempt— contempt which had followed closely upon her sensations of surprise and bewilderment after her first acquaintance with him.

This new woman gave him further to understand that though it was absolutely the same to her whom he married, yet she had decided to prevent this marriage—for no particular reason, but that she chose to do so, and because she wished to amuse herself at his expense for that it was “quite her turn to laugh a little now!”

Such were her words—very likely she did not give her real reason for this eccentric conduct; but, at all events, that was all the explanation she deigned to offer.

Meanwhile, Totski thought the matter over as well as his scattered ideas would permit. His meditations lasted a fortnight, however, and at the end of that time his resolution was taken. The fact was, Totski was at that time a man of fifty years of age; his position was solid and respectable; his place in society had long been firmly fixed upon safe foundations; he loved himself, his personal comforts, and his position better than all the world, as every respectable gentleman should!

At the same time his grasp of things in general soon showed Totski that he now had to deal with a being who was outside the pale of the ordinary rules of traditional behaviour, and who would not only threaten mischief but would undoubtedly carry it out, and stop for no one.

There was evidently, he concluded, something at work here; some storm of the mind, some paroxysm of romantic anger, goodness knows against whom or what, some insatiable contempt—in a word, something altogether absurd and impossible, but at the same time most dangerous to be met with by any respectable person with a position in society to keep up.

For a man of Totski’s wealth and standing, it would, of course, have been the simplest possible matter to take steps which would rid him at once from all annoyance; while it was obviously impossible for Nastasia Philipovna to harm him in any way, either legally or by stirring up a scandal, for, in case of the latter danger, he could so easily remove her to a sphere of safety. However, these arguments would only hold good in case of Nastasia acting as others might in such an emergency. She was much more likely to overstep the bounds of reasonable conduct by some extraordinary eccentricity.

Here the sound judgment of Totski stood him in good stead. He realized that Nastasia Philipovna must be well aware that she could do nothing by legal means to injure him, and that her flashing eyes betrayed some entirely different intention.

Nastasia Philipovna was quite capable of ruining herself, and even of perpetrating something which would send her to Siberia, for the mere pleasure of injuring a man for whom she had developed so inhuman a sense of loathing and contempt. He had sufficient insight to understand that she valued nothing in the world—herself least of all—and he made no attempt to conceal the fact that he was a coward in some respects. For instance, if he had been told that he would be stabbed at the altar, or publicly insulted, he would undoubtedly have been frightened; but not so much at the idea of being murdered, or wounded, or insulted, as at the thought that if such things were to happen he would be made to look ridiculous in the eyes of society.

He knew well that Nastasia thoroughly understood him and where to wound him and how, and therefore, as the marriage was still only in embryo, Totski decided to conciliate her by giving it up. His decision was strengthened by the fact that Nastasia Philipovna had curiously altered of late. It would be difficult to conceive how different she was physically, at the present time, to the girl of a few years ago. She was pretty then … but now! … Totski laughed angrily when he thought how short-sighted he had been. In days gone by he remembered how he had looked at her beautiful eyes, how even then he had marvelled at their dark mysterious depths, and at their wondering gaze which seemed to seek an answer to some unknown riddle. Her complexion also had altered. She was now exceedingly pale, but, curiously, this change only made her more beautiful. Like most men of the world, Totski had rather despised such a cheaply-bought conquest, but of late years he had begun to think differently about it. It had struck him as long ago as last spring that he ought to be finding a good match for Nastasia; for instance, some respectable and reasonable young fellow serving in a government office in another part of the country. How maliciously Nastasia laughed at the idea of such a thing, now!

However, it appeared to Totski that he might make use of her in another way; and he determined to establish her in St. Petersburg, surrounding her with all the comforts and luxuries that his wealth could command. In this way he might gain glory in certain circles.

Five years of this Petersburg life went by, and, of course, during that time a great deal happened. Totski’s position was very uncomfortable; having “funked” once, he could not totally regain his ease. He was afraid, he did not know why, but he was simply afraid of Nastasia Philipovna. For the first two years or so he had suspected that she wished to marry him herself, and that only her vanity prevented her telling him so. He thought that she wanted him to approach her with a humble proposal from his own side, But to his great, and not entirely pleasurable amazement, he discovered that this was by no means the case, and that were he to offer himself he would be refused. He could not understand such a state of things, and was obliged to conclude that it was pride, the pride of an injured and imaginative woman, which had gone to such lengths that it preferred to sit and nurse its contempt and hatred in solitude rather than mount to heights of hitherto unattainable splendour. To make matters worse, she was quite impervious to mercenary considerations, and could not be bribed in any way.

Finally, Totski took cunning means to try to break his chains and be free. He tried to tempt her in various ways to lose her heart; he invited princes, hussars, secretaries of embassies, poets, novelists, even Socialists, to see her; but not one of them all made the faintest impression upon Nastasia. It was as though she had a pebble in place of a heart, as though her feelings and affections were dried up and withered for ever.

She lived almost entirely alone; she read, she studied, she loved music. Her principal acquaintances were poor women of various grades, a couple of actresses, and the family of a poor schoolteacher. Among these people she was much beloved.

She received four or five friends sometimes, of an evening. Totski often came. Lately, too, General Epanchin had been enabled with great difficulty to introduce himself into her circle. Gania made her acquaintance also, and others were Ferdishenko, an ill- bred, and would-be witty, young clerk, and Ptitsin, a money- lender of modest and polished manners, who had risen from poverty. In fact, Nastasia Philipovna’s beauty became a thing known to all the town; but not a single man could boast of anything more than his own admiration for her; and this reputation of hers, and her wit and culture and grace, all confirmed Totski in the plan he had now prepared.

And it was at this moment that General Epanchin began to play so large and important a part in the story.

When Totski had approached the general with his request for friendly counsel as to a marriage with one of his daughters, he had made a full and candid confession. He had said that he intended to stop at no means to obtain his freedom; even if Nastasia were to promise to leave him entirely alone in future, he would not (he said) believe and trust her; words were not enough for him; he must have solid guarantees of some sort. So he and the general determined to try what an attempt to appeal to her heart would effect. Having arrived at Nastasia’s house one day, with Epanchin, Totski immediately began to speak of the intolerable torment of his position. He admitted that he was to blame for all, but candidly confessed that he could not bring himself to feel any remorse for his original guilt towards herself, because he was a man of sensual passions which were inborn and ineradicable, and that he had no power over himself in this respect; but that he wished, seriously, to marry at last, and that the whole fate of the most desirable social union which he contemplated, was in her hands; in a word, he confided his all to her generosity of heart.

General Epanchin took up his part and spoke in the character of father of a family; he spoke sensibly, and without wasting words over any attempt at sentimentality, he merely recorded his full admission of her right to be the arbiter of Totski’s destiny at this moment. He then pointed out that the fate of his daughter, and very likely of both his other daughters, now hung upon her reply.

To Nastasia’s question as to what they wished her to do, Totski confessed that he had been so frightened by her, five years ago, that he could never now be entirely comfortable until she herself married. He immediately added that such a suggestion from him would, of course, be absurd, unless accompanied by remarks of a more pointed nature. He very well knew, he said, that a certain young gentleman of good family, namely, Gavrila Ardalionovitch Ivolgin, with whom she was acquainted, and whom she received at her house, had long loved her passionately, and would give his life for some response from her. The young fellow had confessed this love of his to him (Totski) and had also admitted it in the hearing of his benefactor, General Epanchin. Lastly, he could not help being of opinion that Nastasia must be aware of Gania’s love for her, and if he (Totski) mistook not, she had looked with some favour upon it, being often lonely, and rather tired of her present life. Having remarked how difficult it was for him, of all people, to speak to her of these matters, Totski concluded by saying that he trusted Nastasia Philipovna would not look with contempt upon him if he now expressed his sincere desire to guarantee her future by a gift of seventy-five thousand roubles. He added that the sum would have been left her all the same in his will, and that therefore she must not consider the gift as in any way an indemnification to her for anything, but that there was no reason, after all, why a man should not be allowed to entertain a natural desire to lighten his conscience, etc., etc.; in fact, all that would naturally be said under the circumstances. Totski was very eloquent all through, and, in conclusion, just touched on the fact that not a soul in the world, not even General Epanchin, had ever heard a word about the above seventy-five thousand roubles, and that this was the first time he had ever given expression to his intentions in respect to them.

Nastasia Philipovna’s reply to this long rigmarole astonished both the friends considerably.

Not only was there no trace of her former irony, of her old hatred and enmity, and of that dreadful laughter, the very recollection of which sent a cold chill down Totski’s back to this very day; but she seemed charmed and really glad to have the opportunity of talking seriously with him for once in a way. She confessed that she had long wished to have a frank and free conversation and to ask for friendly advice, but that pride had hitherto prevented her; now, however, that the ice was broken, nothing could be more welcome to her than this opportunity.

First, with a sad smile, and then with a twinkle of merriment in her eyes, she admitted that such a storm as that of five years ago was now quite out of the question. She said that she had long since changed her views of things, and recognized that facts must be taken into consideration in spite of the feelings of the heart. What was done was done and ended, and she could not understand why Totski should still feel alarmed.

She next turned to General Epanchin and observed, most courteously, that she had long since known of his daughters, and that she had heard none but good report; that she had learned to think of them with deep and sincere respect. The idea alone that she could in any way serve them, would be to her both a pride and a source of real happiness.

It was true that she was lonely in her present life; Totski had judged her thoughts aright. She longed to rise, if not to love, at least to family life and new hopes and objects, but as to Gavrila Ardalionovitch, she could not as yet say much. She thought it must be the case that he loved her; she felt that she too might learn to love him, if she could be sure of the firmness of his attachment to herself; but he was very young, and it was a difficult question to decide. What she specially liked about him was that he worked, and supported his family by his toil.

She had heard that he was proud and ambitious; she had heard much that was interesting of his mother and sister, she had heard of them from Mr. Ptitsin, and would much like to make their acquaintance, but—another question!—would they like to receive her into their house? At all events, though she did not reject the idea of this marriage, she desired not to be hurried. As for the seventy-five thousand roubles, Mr. Totski need not have found any difficulty or awkwardness about the matter; she quite understood the value of money, and would, of course, accept the gift. She thanked him for his delicacy, however, but saw no reason why Gavrila Ardalionovitch should not know about it.

She would not marry the latter, she said, until she felt persuaded that neither on his part nor on the part of his family did there exist any sort of concealed suspicions as to herself. She did not intend to ask forgiveness for anything in the past, which fact she desired to be known. She did not consider herself to blame for anything that had happened in former years, and she thought that Gavrila Ardalionovitch should be informed as to the relations which had existed between herself and Totski during the last five years. If she accepted this money it was not to be considered as indemnification for her misfortune as a young girl, which had not been in any degree her own fault, but merely as compensation for her ruined life.

She became so excited and agitated during all these explanations and confessions that General Epanchin was highly gratified, and considered the matter satisfactorily arranged once for all. But the once bitten Totski was twice shy, and looked for hidden snakes among the flowers. However, the special point to which the two friends particularly trusted to bring about their object (namely, Gania’s attractiveness for Nastasia Philipovna), stood out more and more prominently; the pourparlers had commenced, and gradually even Totski began to believe in the possibility of success.

Before long Nastasia and Gania had talked the matter over. Very little was said—her modesty seemed to suffer under the infliction of discussing such a question. But she recognized his love, on the understanding that she bound herself to nothing whatever, and that she reserved the right to say “no” up to the very hour of the marriage ceremony. Gania was to have the same right of refusal at the last moment.

It soon became clear to Gania, after scenes of wrath and quarrellings at the domestic hearth, that his family were seriously opposed to the match, and that Nastasia was aware of this fact was equally evident. She said nothing about it, though he daily expected her to do so.

There were several rumours afloat, before long, which upset Totski’s equanimity a good deal, but we will not now stop to describe them; merely mentioning an instance or two. One was that Nastasia had entered into close and secret relations with the Epanchin girls—a most unlikely rumour; another was that Nastasia had long satisfied herself of the fact that Gania was merely marrying her for money, and that his nature was gloomy and greedy, impatient and selfish, to an extraordinary degree; and that although he had been keen enough in his desire to achieve a conquest before, yet since the two friends had agreed to exploit his passion for their own purposes, it was clear enough that he had begun to consider the whole thing a nuisance and a nightmare.

In his heart passion and hate seemed to hold divided sway, and although he had at last given his consent to marry the woman (as he said), under the stress of circumstances, yet he promised himself that he would “take it out of her,” after marriage.

Nastasia seemed to Totski to have divined all this, and to be preparing something on her own account, which frightened him to such an extent that he did not dare communicate his views even to the general. But at times he would pluck up his courage and be full of hope and good spirits again, acting, in fact, as weak men do act in such circumstances.

However, both the friends felt that the thing looked rosy indeed when one day Nastasia informed them that she would give her final answer on the evening of her birthday, which anniversary was due in a very short time.

A strange rumour began to circulate, meanwhile; no less than that the respectable and highly respected General Epanchin was himself so fascinated by Nastasia Philipovna that his feeling for her amounted almost to passion. What he thought to gain by Gania’s marriage to the girl it was difficult to imagine. Possibly he counted on Gania’s complaisance; for Totski had long suspected that there existed some secret understanding between the general and his secretary. At all events the fact was known that he had prepared a magnificent present of pearls for Nastasia’s birthday, and that he was looking forward to the occasion when he should present his gift with the greatest excitement and impatience. The day before her birthday he was in a fever of agitation.

Mrs. Epanchin, long accustomed to her husband’s infidelities, had heard of the pearls, and the rumour excited her liveliest curiosity and interest. The general remarked her suspicions, and felt that a grand explanation must shortly take place—which fact alarmed him much.

This is the reason why he was so unwilling to take lunch (on the morning upon which we took up this narrative) with the rest of his family. Before the prince’s arrival he had made up his mind to plead business, and “cut” the meal; which simply meant running away.

He was particularly anxious that this one day should be passed— especially the evening—without unpleasantness between himself and his family; and just at the right moment the prince turned up—“as though Heaven had sent him on purpose,” said the general to himself, as he left the study to seek out the wife of his bosom.


Mrs. General Epanchin was a proud woman by nature. What must her feelings have been when she heard that Prince Muishkin, the last of his and her line, had arrived in beggar’s guise, a wretched idiot, a recipient of charity—all of which details the general gave out for greater effect! He was anxious to steal her interest at the first swoop, so as to distract her thoughts from other matters nearer home.

Mrs. Epanchin was in the habit of holding herself very straight, and staring before her, without speaking, in moments of excitement.

She was a fine woman of the same age as her husband, with a slightly hooked nose, a high, narrow forehead, thick hair turning a little grey, and a sallow complexion. Her eyes were grey and wore a very curious expression at times. She believed them to be most effective—a belief that nothing could alter.

“What, receive him! Now, at once?” asked Mrs. Epanchin, gazing vaguely at her husband as he stood fidgeting before her.

“Oh, dear me, I assure you there is no need to stand on ceremony with him,” the general explained hastily. “He is quite a child, not to say a pathetic-looking creature. He has fits of some sort, and has just arrived from Switzerland, straight from the station, dressed like a German and without a farthing in his pocket. I gave him twenty-five roubles to go on with, and am going to find him some easy place in one of the government offices. I should like you to ply him well with the victuals, my dears, for I should think he must be very hungry.”

“You astonish me,” said the lady, gazing as before. “Fits, and hungry too! What sort of fits?”

“Oh, they don’t come on frequently, besides, he’s a regular child, though he seems to be fairly educated. I should like you, if possible, my dears,” the general added, making slowly for the door, “to put him through his paces a bit, and see what he is good for. I think you should be kind to him; it is a good deed, you know—however, just as you like, of course—but he is a sort of relation, remember, and I thought it might interest you to see the young fellow, seeing that this is so.”

“Oh, of course, mamma, if we needn’t stand on ceremony with him, we must give the poor fellow something to eat after his journey; especially as he has not the least idea where to go to,” said Alexandra, the eldest of the girls.

“Besides, he’s quite a child; we can entertain him with a little hide-and-seek, in case of need,” said Adelaida.

“Hide-and-seek? What do you mean?” inquired Mrs. Epanchin.

“Oh, do stop pretending, mamma,” cried Aglaya, in vexation. “Send him up, father; mother allows.”

The general rang the bell and gave orders that the prince should be shown in.

“Only on condition that he has a napkin under his chin at lunch, then,” said Mrs. Epanchin, “and let Fedor, or Mavra, stand behind him while he eats. Is he quiet when he has these fits? He doesn’t show violence, does he?”

“On the contrary, he seems to be very well brought up. His manners are excellent—but here he is himself. Here you are, prince—let me introduce you, the last of the Muishkins, a relative of your own, my dear, or at least of the same name. Receive him kindly, please. They’ll bring in lunch directly, prince; you must stop and have some, but you must excuse me. I’m in a hurry, I must be off—”

“We all know where YOU must be off to!” said Mrs. Epanchin, in a meaning voice.

“Yes, yes—I must hurry away, I’m late! Look here, dears, let him write you something in your albums; you’ve no idea what a wonderful caligraphist he is, wonderful talent! He has just written out ‘Abbot Pafnute signed this’ for me. Well, au revoir!”

“Stop a minute; where are you off to? Who is this abbot?” cried Mrs. Epanchin to her retreating husband in a tone of excited annoyance.

“Yes, my dear, it was an old abbot of that name-I must be off to see the count, he’s waiting for me, I’m late—Good-bye! Au revoir, prince!”—and the general bolted at full speed.

“Oh, yes—I know what count you’re going to see!” remarked his wife in a cutting manner, as she turned her angry eyes on the prince. “Now then, what’s all this about?—What abbot—Who’s Pafnute?” she added, brusquely.

“Mamma!” said Alexandra, shocked at her rudeness.

Aglaya stamped her foot.

“Nonsense! Let me alone!” said the angry mother. “Now then, prince, sit down here, no, nearer, come nearer the light! I want to have a good look at you. So, now then, who is this abbot?”

“Abbot Pafnute,” said our friend, seriously and with deference.

“Pafnute, yes. And who was he?”

Mrs. Epanchin put these questions hastily and brusquely, and when the prince answered she nodded her head sagely at each word he said.

“The Abbot Pafnute lived in the fourteenth century,” began the prince; “he was in charge of one of the monasteries on the Volga, about where our present Kostroma government lies. He went to Oreol and helped in the great matters then going on in the religious world; he signed an edict there, and I have seen a print of his signature; it struck me, so I copied it. When the general asked me, in his study, to write something for him, to show my handwriting, I wrote ‘The Abbot Pafnute signed this,’ in the exact handwriting of the abbot. The general liked it very much, and that’s why he recalled it just now. “

“Aglaya, make a note of ‘Pafnute,’ or we shall forget him. H’m! and where is this signature?”

“I think it was left on the general’s table.”

“Let it be sent for at once!”

“Oh, I’ll write you a new one in half a minute,” said the prince, “if you like!”

“Of course, mamma!” said Alexandra. “But let’s have lunch now, we are all hungry!”

“Yes; come along, prince,” said the mother, “are you very hungry?”

“Yes; I must say that I am pretty hungry, thanks very much.”

“H’m! I like to see that you know your manners; and you are by no means such a person as the general thought fit to describe you. Come along; you sit here, opposite to me,” she continued, “I wish to be able to see your face. Alexandra, Adelaida, look after the prince! He doesn’t seem so very ill, does he? I don’t think he requires a napkin under his chin, after all; are you accustomed to having one on, prince?”

“Formerly, when I was seven years old or so. I believe I wore one; but now I usually hold my napkin on my knee when I eat.”

“Of course, of course! And about your fits?”

“Fits?” asked the prince, slightly surprised. “I very seldom have fits nowadays. I don’t know how it may be here, though; they say the climate may be bad for me. “

“He talks very well, you know!” said Mrs. Epanchin, who still continued to nod at each word the prince spoke. “I really did not expect it at all; in fact, I suppose it was all stuff and nonsense on the general’s part, as usual. Eat away, prince, and tell me where you were born, and where you were brought up. I wish to know all about you, you interest me very much!”

The prince expressed his thanks once more, and eating heartily the while, recommenced the narrative of his life in Switzerland, all of which we have heard before. Mrs. Epanchin became more and more pleased with her guest; the girls, too, listened with considerable attention. In talking over the question of relationship it turned out that the prince was very well up in the matter and knew his pedigree off by heart. It was found that scarcely any connection existed between himself and Mrs. Epanchin, but the talk, and the opportunity of conversing about her family tree, gratified the latter exceedingly, and she rose from the table in great good humour.

“Let’s all go to my boudoir,” she said, “and they shall bring some coffee in there. That’s the room where we all assemble and busy ourselves as we like best,” she explained. “Alexandra, my eldest, here, plays the piano, or reads or sews; Adelaida paints landscapes and portraits (but never finishes any); and Aglaya sits and does nothing. I don’t work too much, either. Here we are, now; sit down, prince, near the fire and talk to us. I want to hear you relate something. I wish to make sure of you first and then tell my old friend, Princess Bielokonski, about you. I wish you to know all the good people and to interest them. Now then, begin!”

“Mamma, it’s rather a strange order, that!” said Adelaida, who was fussing among her paints and paint-brushes at the easel. Aglaya and Alexandra had settled themselves with folded hands on a sofa, evidently meaning to be listeners. The prince felt that the general attention was concentrated upon himself.

“I should refuse to say a word if I were ordered to tell a story like that!” observed Aglaya.

“Why? what’s there strange about it? He has a tongue. Why shouldn’t he tell us something? I want to judge whether he is a good story-teller; anything you like, prince-how you liked Switzerland, what was your first impression, anything. You’ll see, he’ll begin directly and tell us all about it beautifully.”

“The impression was forcible—” the prince began.

“There, you see, girls,” said the impatient lady, “he has begun, you see.”

“Well, then, LET him talk, mamma,” said Alexandra. “This prince is a great humbug and by no means an idiot,” she whispered to Aglaya.

“Oh, I saw that at once,” replied the latter. “I don’t think it at all nice of him to play a part. What does he wish to gain by it, I wonder?”

“My first impression was a very strong one,” repeated the prince. “When they took me away from Russia, I remember I passed through many German towns and looked out of the windows, but did not trouble so much as to ask questions about them. This was after a long series of fits. I always used to fall into a sort of torpid condition after such a series, and lost my memory almost entirely; and though I was not altogether without reason at such times, yet I had no logical power of thought. This would continue for three or four days, and then I would recover myself again. I remember my melancholy was intolerable; I felt inclined to cry; I sat and wondered and wondered uncomfortably; the consciousness that everything was strange weighed terribly upon me; I could understand that it was all foreign and strange. I recollect I awoke from this state for the first time at Basle, one evening; the bray of a donkey aroused me, a donkey in the town market. I saw the donkey and was extremely pleased with it, and from that moment my head seemed to clear.”

“A donkey? How strange! Yet it is not strange. Anyone of us might fall in love with a donkey! It happened in mythological times,” said Madame Epanchin, looking wrathfully at her daughters, who had begun to laugh. “Go on, prince.”

“Since that evening I have been specially fond of donkeys. I began to ask questions about them, for I had never seen one before; and I at once came to the conclusion that this must be one of the most useful of animals—strong, willing, patient, cheap; and, thanks to this donkey, I began to like the whole country I was travelling through; and my melancholy passed away.”

“All this is very strange and interesting,” said Mrs. Epanchin. “Now let’s leave the donkey and go on to other matters. What are you laughing at, Aglaya? and you too, Adelaida? The prince told us his experiences very cleverly; he saw the donkey himself, and what have you ever seen? YOU have never been abroad.”

“I have seen a donkey though, mamma!” said Aglaya.

“And I’ve heard one!” said Adelaida. All three of the girls laughed out loud, and the prince laughed with them.

“Well, it’s too bad of you,” said mamma. “You must forgive them, prince; they are good girls. I am very fond of them, though I often have to be scolding them; they are all as silly and mad as march hares.”

“Oh, why shouldn’t they laugh?” said the prince. ” I shouldn’t have let the chance go by in their place, I know. But I stick up for the donkey, all the same; he’s a patient, good-natured fellow.”

“Are you a patient man, prince? I ask out of curiosity,” said Mrs. Epanchin.

All laughed again.

“Oh, that wretched donkey again, I see!” cried the lady. “I assure you, prince, I was not guilty of the least—”

“Insinuation? Oh! I assure you, I take your word for it.” And the prince continued laughing merrily.

“I must say it’s very nice of you to laugh. I see you really are a kind-hearted fellow,” said Mrs. Epanchin.

“I’m not always kind, though.”

“I am kind myself, and ALWAYS kind too, if you please!” she retorted, unexpectedly; “and that is my chief fault, for one ought not to be always kind. I am often angry with these girls and their father; but the worst of it is, I am always kindest when I am cross. I was very angry just before you came, and Aglaya there read me a lesson—thanks, Aglaya, dear—come and kiss me—there—that’s enough” she added, as Aglaya came forward and kissed her lips and then her hand. “Now then, go on, prince. Perhaps you can think of something more exciting than about the donkey, eh?”

“I must say, again, I can’t understand how you can expect anyone to tell you stories straight away, so,” said Adelaida. “I know I never could!”

“Yes, but the prince can, because he is clever—cleverer than you are by ten or twenty times, if you like. There, that’s so, prince; and seriously, let’s drop the donkey now—what else did you see abroad, besides the donkey?”

“Yes, but the prince told us about the donkey very cleverly, all the same,” said Alexandra. “I have always been most interested to hear how people go mad and get well again, and that sort of thing. Especially when it happens suddenly.”

“Quite so, quite so!” cried Mrs. Epanchin, delighted. “I see you CAN be sensible now and then, Alexandra. You were speaking of Switzerland, prince?”

“Yes. We came to Lucerne, and I was taken out in a boat. I felt how lovely it was, but the loveliness weighed upon me somehow or other, and made me feel melancholy.”

“Why?” asked Alexandra.

“I don’t know; I always feel like that when I look at the beauties of nature for the first time; but then, I was ill at that time, of course!”

“Oh, but I should like to see it!” said Adelaida; “and I don’t know WHEN we shall ever go abroad. I’ve been two years looking out for a good subject for a picture. I’ve done all I know. ‘The North and South I know by heart,’ as our poet observes. Do help me to a subject, prince.”

“Oh, but I know nothing about painting. It seems to me one only has to look, and paint what one sees.”

“But I don’t know HOW to see!”

“Nonsense, what rubbish you talk!” the mother struck in. “Not know how to see! Open your eyes and look! If you can’t see here, you won’t see abroad either. Tell us what you saw yourself, prince!”

“Yes, that’s better,” said Adelaida; “the prince learned to see abroad.”

“Oh, I hardly know! You see, I only went to restore my health. I don’t know whether I learned to see, exactly. I was very happy, however, nearly all the time.”

“Happy! you can be happy?” cried Aglaya. “Then how can you say you did not learn to see? I should think you could teach us to see!”

“Oh! DO teach us,” laughed Adelaida.

“Oh! I can’t do that,” said the prince, laughing too. “I lived almost all the while in one little Swiss village; what can I teach you? At first I was only just not absolutely dull; then my health began to improve—then every day became dearer and more precious to me, and the longer I stayed, the dearer became the time to me; so much so that I could not help observing it; but why this was so, it would be difficult to say.”

“So that you didn’t care to go away anywhere else?”

“Well, at first I did; I was restless; I didn’t know however I should manage to support life—you know there are such moments, especially in solitude. There was a waterfall near us, such a lovely thin streak of water, like a thread but white and moving. It fell from a great height, but it looked quite low, and it was half a mile away, though it did not seem fifty paces. I loved to listen to it at night, but it was then that I became so restless. Sometimes I went and climbed the mountain and stood there in the midst of the tall pines, all alone in the terrible silence, with our little village in the distance, and the sky so blue, and the sun so bright, and an old ruined castle on the mountain-side, far away. I used to watch the line where earth and sky met, and longed to go and seek there the key of all mysteries, thinking that I might find there a new life, perhaps some great city where life should be grander and richer—and then it struck me that life may be grand enough even in a prison.”

“I read that last most praiseworthy thought in my manual, when I was twelve years old,” said Aglaya.

“All this is pure philosophy,” said Adelaida. “You are a philosopher, prince, and have come here to instruct us in your views.”

“Perhaps you are right,” said the prince, smiling. “I think I am a philosopher, perhaps, and who knows, perhaps I do wish to teach my views of things to those I meet with?”

“Your philosophy is rather like that of an old woman we know, who is rich and yet does nothing but try how little she can spend. She talks of nothing but money all day. Your great philosophical idea of a grand life in a prison and your four happy years in that Swiss village are like this, rather,” said Aglaya.

“As to life in a prison, of course there may be two opinions,” said the prince. “I once heard the story of a man who lived twelve years in a prison—I heard it from the man himself. He was one of the persons under treatment with my professor; he had fits, and attacks of melancholy, then he would weep, and once he tried to commit suicide. HIS life in prison was sad enough; his only acquaintances were spiders and a tree that grew outside his grating-but I think I had better tell you of another man I met last year. There was a very strange feature in this case, strange because of its extremely rare occurrence. This man had once been brought to the scaffold in company with several others, and had had the sentence of death by shooting passed upon him for some political crime. Twenty minutes later he had been reprieved and some other punishment substituted; but the interval between the two sentences, twenty minutes, or at least a quarter of an hour, had been passed in the certainty that within a few minutes he must die. I was very anxious to hear him speak of his impressions during that dreadful time, and I several times inquired of him as to what he thought and felt. He remembered everything with the most accurate and extraordinary distinctness, and declared that he would never forget a single iota of the experience.

“About twenty paces from the scaffold, where he had stood to hear the sentence, were three posts, fixed in the ground, to which to fasten the criminals (of whom there were several). The first three criminals were taken to the posts, dressed in long white tunics, with white caps drawn over their faces, so that they could not see the rifles pointed at them. Then a group of soldiers took their stand opposite to each post. My friend was the eighth on the list, and therefore he would have been among the third lot to go up. A priest went about among them with a cross: and there was about five minutes of time left for him to live.

“He said that those five minutes seemed to him to be a most interminable period, an enormous wealth of time; he seemed to be living, in these minutes, so many lives that there was no need as yet to think of that last moment, so that he made several arrangements, dividing up the time into portions—one for saying farewell to his companions, two minutes for that; then a couple more for thinking over his own life and career and all about himself; and another minute for a last look around. He remembered having divided his time like this quite well. While saying good- bye to his friends he recollected asking one of them some very usual everyday question, and being much interested in the answer. Then having bade farewell, he embarked upon those two minutes which he had allotted to looking into himself; he knew beforehand what he was going to think about. He wished to put it to himself as quickly and clearly as possible, that here was he, a living, thinking man, and that in three minutes he would be nobody; or if somebody or something, then what and where? He thought he would decide this question once for all in these last three minutes. A little way off there stood a church, and its gilded spire glittered in the sun. He remembered staring stubbornly at this spire, and at the rays of light sparkling from it. He could not tear his eyes from these rays of light; he got the idea that these rays were his new nature, and that in three minutes he would become one of them, amalgamated somehow with them.

“The repugnance to what must ensue almost immediately, and the uncertainty, were dreadful, he said; but worst of all was the idea, ‘What should I do if I were not to die now? What if I were to return to life again? What an eternity of days, and all mine! How I should grudge and count up every minute of it, so as to waste not a single instant!’ He said that this thought weighed so upon him and became such a terrible burden upon his brain that he could not bear it, and wished they would shoot him quickly and have done with it.”

The prince paused and all waited, expecting him to go on again and finish the story.

“Is that all?” asked Aglaya.

“All? Yes,” said the prince, emerging from a momentary reverie.

“And why did you tell us this?”

“Oh, I happened to recall it, that’s all! It fitted into the conversation—”

“You probably wish to deduce, prince,” said Alexandra, “that moments of time cannot be reckoned by money value, and that sometimes five minutes are worth priceless treasures. All this is very praiseworthy; but may I ask about this friend of yours, who told you the terrible experience of his life? He was reprieved, you say; in other words, they did restore to him that ‘eternity of days.’ What did he do with these riches of time? Did he keep careful account of his minutes?”

“Oh no, he didn’t! I asked him myself. He said that he had not lived a bit as he had intended, and had wasted many, and many a minute.”

“Very well, then there’s an experiment, and the thing is proved; one cannot live and count each moment; say what you like, but one CANNOT.”

“That is true,” said the prince, “I have thought so myself. And yet, why shouldn’t one do it?”

“You think, then, that you could live more wisely than other people?” said Aglaya.

“I have had that idea.”

“And you have it still?”

“Yes—I have it still,” the prince replied.

He had contemplated Aglaya until now, with a pleasant though rather timid smile, but as the last words fell from his lips he began to laugh, and looked at her merrily.

“You are not very modest!” said she.

“But how brave you are!” said he. “You are laughing, and I— that man’s tale impressed me so much, that I dreamt of it afterwards; yes, I dreamt of those five minutes …”

He looked at his listeners again with that same serious, searching expression.

“You are not angry with me?” he asked suddenly, and with a kind of nervous hurry, although he looked them straight in the face.

“Why should we be angry?” they cried.

“Only because I seem to be giving you a lecture, all the time!”

At this they laughed heartily.

“Please don’t be angry with me,” continued the prince. “I know very well that I have seen less of life than other people, and have less knowledge of it. I must appear to speak strangely sometimes …”

He said the last words nervously.

“You say you have been happy, and that proves you have lived, not less, but more than other people. Why make all these excuses?” interrupted Aglaya in a mocking tone of voice. “Besides, you need not mind about lecturing us; you have nothing to boast of. With your quietism, one could live happily for a hundred years at least. One might show you the execution of a felon, or show you one’s little finger. You could draw a moral from either, and be quite satisfied. That sort of existence is easy enough.”

“I can’t understand why you always fly into a temper,” said Mrs. Epanchin, who had been listening to the conversation and examining the faces of the speakers in turn. “I do not understand what you mean. What has your little finger to do with it? The prince talks well, though he is not amusing. He began all right, but now he seems sad.”

“Never mind, mamma! Prince, I wish you had seen an execution,” said Aglaya. “I should like to ask you a question about that, if you had.”

“I have seen an execution,” said the prince.

“You have!” cried Aglaya. “I might have guessed it. That’s a fitting crown to the rest of the story. If you have seen an execution, how can you say you lived happily all the while?”

“But is there capital punishment where you were?” asked Adelaida.

“I saw it at Lyons. Schneider took us there, and as soon as we arrived we came in for that.”

“Well, and did you like it very much? Was it very edifying and instructive?” asked Aglaya.

“No, I didn’t like it at all, and was ill after seeing it; but I confess I stared as though my eyes were fixed to the sight. I could not tear them away.”

“I, too, should have been unable to tear my eyes away,” said Aglaya.

“They do not at all approve of women going to see an execution there. The women who do go are condemned for it afterwards in the newspapers.”

“That is, by contending that it is not a sight for women they admit that it is a sight for men. I congratulate them on the deduction. I suppose you quite agree with them, prince?”

“Tell us about the execution,” put in Adelaida.

“I would much rather not, just now,” said the prince, a little disturbed and frowning slightly;

” You don’t seem to want to tell us,” said Aglaya, with a mocking air.

” No,—the thing is, I was telling all about the execution a little while ago, and—”

“Whom did you tell about it?”

“The man-servant, while I was waiting to see the general.”

“Our man-servant?” exclaimed several voices at once.

“Yes, the one who waits in the entrance hall, a greyish, red- faced man—”

“The prince is clearly a democrat,” remarked Aglaya.

“Well, if you could tell Aleksey about it, surely you can tell us too.”

“I do so want to hear about it,” repeated Adelaida.

“Just now, I confess,” began the prince, with more animation, “when you asked me for a subject for a picture, I confess I had serious thoughts of giving you one. I thought of asking you to draw the face of a criminal, one minute before the fall of the guillotine, while the wretched man is still standing on the scaffold, preparatory to placing his neck on the block.”

“What, his face? only his face?” asked Adelaida. “That would be a strange subject indeed. And what sort of a picture would that make?”

“Oh, why not?” the prince insisted, with some warmth. “When I was in Basle I saw a picture very much in that style—I should like to tell you about it; I will some time or other; it struck me very forcibly.”

“Oh, you shall tell us about the Basle picture another time; now we must have all about the execution,” said Adelaida. “Tell us about that face as; it appeared to your imagination-how should it be drawn?—just the face alone, do you mean?”

“It was just a minute before the execution,” began the prince, readily, carried away by the recollection and evidently forgetting everything else in a moment; “just at the instant when he stepped off the ladder on to the scaffold. He happened to look in my direction: I saw his eyes and understood all, at once—but how am I to describe it? I do so wish you or somebody else could draw it, you, if possible. I thought at the time what a picture it would make. You must imagine all that went before, of course, all—all. He had lived in the prison for some time and had not expected that the execution would take place for at least a week yet—he had counted on all the formalities and so on taking time; but it so happened that his papers had been got ready quickly. At five o’clock in the morning he was asleep—it was October, and at five in the morning it was cold and dark. The governor of the prison comes in on tip-toe and touches the sleeping man’s shoulder gently. He starts up. ‘What is it?’ he says. ‘The execution is fixed for ten o’clock.’ He was only just awake, and would not believe at first, but began to argue that his papers would not be out for a week, and so on. When he was wide awake and realized the truth, he became very silent and argued no more—so they say; but after a bit he said: ‘It comes very hard on one so suddenly’ and then he was silent again and said nothing.

“The three or four hours went by, of course, in necessary preparations—the priest, breakfast, (coffee, meat, and some wine they gave him; doesn’t it seem ridiculous?) And yet I believe these people give them a good breakfast out of pure kindness of heart, and believe that they are doing a good action. Then he is dressed, and then begins the procession through the town to the scaffold. I think he, too, must feel that he has an age to live still while they cart him along. Probably he thought, on the way, ‘Oh, I have a long, long time yet. Three streets of life yet! When we’ve passed this street there’ll be that other one; and then that one where the baker’s shop is on the right; and when shall we get there? It’s ages, ages!’ Around him are crowds shouting, yelling—ten thousand faces, twenty thousand eyes. All this has to be endured, and especially the thought: ‘Here are ten thousand men, and not one of them is going to be executed, and yet I am to die.’ Well, all that is preparatory.

“At the scaffold there is a ladder, and just there he burst into tears—and this was a strong man, and a terribly wicked one, they say! There was a priest with him the whole time, talking; even in the cart as they drove along, he talked and talked. Probably the other heard nothing; he would begin to listen now and then, and at the third word or so he had forgotten all about it.

“At last he began to mount the steps; his legs were tied, so that he had to take very small steps. The priest, who seemed to be a wise man, had stopped talking now, and only held the cross for the wretched fellow to kiss. At the foot of the ladder he had been pale enough; but when he set foot on the scaffold at the top, his face suddenly became the colour of paper, positively like white notepaper. His legs must have become suddenly feeble and helpless, and he felt a choking in his throat—you know the sudden feeling one has in moments of terrible fear, when one does not lose one’s wits, but is absolutely powerless to move? If some dreadful thing were suddenly to happen; if a house were just about to fall on one;—don’t you know how one would long to sit down and shut one’s eyes and wait, and wait? Well, when this terrible feeling came over him, the priest quickly pressed the cross to his lips, without a word—a little silver cross it was- and he kept on pressing it to the man’s lips every second. And whenever the cross touched his lips, the eyes would open for a moment, and the legs moved once, and he kissed the cross greedily, hurriedly—just as though he were anxious to catch hold of something in case of its being useful to him afterwards, though he could hardly have had any connected religious thoughts at the time. And so up to the very block.

“How strange that criminals seldom swoon at such a moment! On the contrary, the brain is especially active, and works incessantly— probably hard, hard, hard—like an engine at full pressure. I imagine that various thoughts must beat loud and fast through his head—all unfinished ones, and strange, funny thoughts, very likely!—like this, for instance: ‘That man is looking at me, and he has a wart on his forehead! and the executioner has burst one of his buttons, and the lowest one is all rusty!’ And meanwhile he notices and remembers everything. There is one point that cannot be forgotten, round which everything else dances and turns about; and because of this point he cannot faint, and this lasts until the very final quarter of a second, when the wretched neck is on the block and the victim listens and waits and KNOWS— that’s the point, he KNOWS that he is just NOW about to die, and listens for the rasp of the iron over his head. If I lay there, I should certainly listen for that grating sound, and hear it, too! There would probably be but the tenth part of an instant left to hear it in, but one would certainly hear it. And imagine, some people declare that when the head flies off it is CONSCIOUS of having flown off! Just imagine what a thing to realize! Fancy if consciousness were to last for even five seconds!

“Draw the scaffold so that only the top step of the ladder comes in clearly. The criminal must be just stepping on to it, his face as white as note-paper. The priest is holding the cross to his blue lips, and the criminal kisses it, and knows and sees and understands everything. The cross and the head—there’s your picture; the priest and the executioner, with his two assistants, and a few heads and eyes below. Those might come in as subordinate accessories—a sort of mist. There’s a picture for you.” The prince paused, and looked around.

“Certainly that isn’t much like quietism,” murmured Alexandra, half to herself.

“Now tell us about your love affairs,” said Adelaida, after a moment’s pause.

The prince gazed at her in amazement.

“You know,” Adelaida continued, “you owe us a description of the Basle picture; but first I wish to hear how you fell in love. Don’t deny the fact, for you did, of course. Besides, you stop philosophizing when you are telling about anything.”

“Why are you ashamed of your stories the moment after you have told them?” asked Aglaya, suddenly.

“How silly you are!” said Mrs. Epanchin, looking indignantly towards the last speaker.

“Yes, that wasn’t a clever remark,” said Alexandra.

“Don’t listen to her, prince,” said Mrs. Epanchin; “she says that sort of thing out of mischief. Don’t think anything of their nonsense, it means nothing. They love to chaff, but they like you. I can see it in their faces—I know their faces.”

“I know their faces, too,” said the prince, with a peculiar stress on the words.

“How so?” asked Adelaida, with curiosity.

“What do YOU know about our faces?” exclaimed the other two, in chorus.

But the prince was silent and serious. All awaited his reply.

“I’ll tell you afterwards,” he said quietly.

“Ah, you want to arouse our curiosity!” said Aglaya. “And how terribly solemn you are about it!”

“Very well,” interrupted Adelaida, “then if you can read faces so well, you must have been in love. Come now; I’ve guessed—let’s have the secret!”

“I have not been in love,” said the prince, as quietly and seriously as before. “I have been happy in another way.”

“How, how?”

“Well, I’ll tell you,” said the prince, apparently in a deep reverie.


“Here you all are,” began the prince, “settling yourselves down to listen to me with so much curiosity, that if I do not satisfy you you will probably be angry with me. No, no! I’m only joking!” he added, hastily, with a smile.

“Well, then—they were all children there, and I was always among children and only with children. They were the children of the village in which I lived, and they went to the school there—all of them. I did not teach them, oh no; there was a master for that, one Jules Thibaut. I may have taught them some things, but I was among them just as an outsider, and I passed all four years of my life there among them. I wished for nothing better; I used to tell them everything and hid nothing from them. Their fathers and relations were very angry with me, because the children could do nothing without me at last, and used to throng after me at all times. The schoolmaster was my greatest enemy in the end! I had many enemies, and all because of the children. Even Schneider reproached me. What were they afraid of? One can tell a child everything, anything. I have often been struck by the fact that parents know their children so little. They should not conceal so much from them. How well even little children understand that their parents conceal things from them, because they consider them too young to understand! Children are capable of giving advice in the most important matters. How can one deceive these dear little birds, when they look at one so sweetly and confidingly? I call them birds because there is nothing in the world better than birds!

“However, most of the people were angry with me about one and the same thing; but Thibaut simply was jealous of me. At first he had wagged his head and wondered how it was that the children understood what I told them so well, and could not learn from him; and he laughed like anything when I replied that neither he nor I could teach them very much, but that THEY might teach us a good deal.

“How he could hate me and tell scandalous stories about me, living among children as he did, is what I cannot understand. Children soothe and heal the wounded heart. I remember there was one poor fellow at our professor’s who was being treated for madness, and you have no idea what those children did for him, eventually. I don’t think he was mad, but only terribly unhappy. But I’ll tell you all about him another day. Now I must get on with this story.

“The children did not love me at first; I was such a sickly, awkward kind of a fellow then—and I know I am ugly. Besides, I was a foreigner. The children used to laugh at me, at first; and they even went so far as to throw stones at me, when they saw me kiss Marie. I only kissed her once in my life—no, no, don’t laugh!” The prince hastened to suppress the smiles of his audience at this point. “It was not a matter of LOVE at all! If only you knew what a miserable creature she was, you would have pitied her, just as I did. She belonged to our village. Her mother was an old, old woman, and they used to sell string and thread, and soap and tobacco, out of the window of their little house, and lived on the pittance they gained by this trade. The old woman was ill and very old, and could hardly move. Marie was her daughter, a girl of twenty, weak and thin and consumptive; but still she did heavy work at the houses around, day by day. Well, one fine day a commercial traveller betrayed her and carried her off; and a week later he deserted her. She came home dirty, draggled, and shoeless; she had walked for a whole week without shoes; she had slept in the fields, and caught a terrible cold; her feet were swollen and sore, and her hands torn and scratched all over. She never had been pretty even before; but her eyes were quiet, innocent, kind eyes.

“She was very quiet always—and I remember once, when she had suddenly begun singing at her work, everyone said, ‘Marie tried to sing today!’ and she got so chaffed that she was silent for ever after. She had been treated kindly in the place before; but when she came back now—ill and shunned and miserable—not one of them all had the slightest sympathy for her. Cruel people! Oh, what hazy understandings they have on such matters! Her mother was the first to show the way. She received her wrathfully, unkindly, and with contempt. ‘You have disgraced me,’ she said. She was the first to cast her into ignominy; but when they all heard that Marie had returned to the village, they ran out to see her and crowded into the little cottage—old men, children, women, girls—such a hurrying, stamping, greedy crowd. Marie was lying on the floor at the old woman’s feet, hungry, torn, draggled, crying, miserable.

“When everyone crowded into the room she hid her face in her dishevelled hair and lay cowering on the floor. Everyone looked at her as though she were a piece of dirt off the road. The old men scolded and condemned, and the young ones laughed at her. The women condemned her too, and looked at her contemptuously, just as though she were some loathsome insect.

“Her mother allowed all this to go on, and nodded her head and encouraged them. The old woman was very ill at that time, and knew she was dying (she really did die a couple of months later), and though she felt the end approaching she never thought of forgiving her daughter, to the very day of her death. She would not even speak to her. She made her sleep on straw in a shed, and hardly gave her food enough to support life.

“Marie was very gentle to her mother, and nursed her, and did everything for her; but the old woman accepted all her services without a word and never showed her the slightest kindness. Marie bore all this; and I could see when I got to know her that she thought it quite right and fitting, considering herself the lowest and meanest of creatures.

“When the old woman took to her bed finally, the other old women in the village sat with her by turns, as the custom is there; and then Marie was quite driven out of the house. They gave her no food at all, and she could not get any work in the village; none would employ her. The men seemed to consider her no longer a woman, they said such dreadful things to her. Sometimes on Sundays, if they were drunk enough, they used to throw her a penny or two, into the mud, and Marie would silently pick up the money. She had began to spit blood at that time.

“At last her rags became so tattered and torn that she was ashamed of appearing in the village any longer. The children used to pelt her with mud; so she begged to be taken on as assistant cowherd, but the cowherd would not have her. Then she took to helping him without leave; and he saw how valuable her assistance was to him, and did not drive her away again; on the contrary, he occasionally gave her the remnants of his dinner, bread and cheese. He considered that he was being very kind. When the mother died, the village parson was not ashamed to hold Marie up to public derision and shame. Marie was standing at the coffin’s head, in all her rags, crying.

“A crowd of people had collected to see how she would cry. The parson, a young fellow ambitious of becoming a great preacher, began his sermon and pointed to Marie. ‘There,’ he said, ‘there is the cause of the death of this venerable woman’—(which was a lie, because she had been ill for at least two years)—‘there she stands before you, and dares not lift her eyes from the ground, because she knows that the finger of God is upon her. Look at her tatters and rags—the badge of those who lose their virtue. Who is she? her daughter!’ and so on to the end.

“And just fancy, this infamy pleased them, all of them, nearly. Only the children had altered—for then they were all on my side and had learned to love Marie.

“This is how it was: I had wished to do something for Marie; I longed to give her some money, but I never had a farthing while I was there. But I had a little diamond pin, and this I sold to a travelling pedlar; he gave me eight francs for it—it was worth at least forty.

“I long sought to meet Marie alone; and at last I did meet her, on the hillside beyond the village. I gave her the eight francs and asked her to take care of the money because I could get no more; and then I kissed her and said that she was not to suppose I kissed her with any evil motives or because I was in love with her, for that I did so solely out of pity for her, and because from the first I had not accounted her as guilty so much as unfortunate. I longed to console and encourage her somehow, and to assure her that she was not the low, base thing which she and others strove to make out; but I don’t think she understood me. She stood before me, dreadfully ashamed of herself, and with downcast eyes; and when I had finished she kissed my hand. I would have kissed hers, but she drew it away. Just at this moment the whole troop of children saw us. (I found out afterwards that they had long kept a watch upon me.) They all began whistling and clapping their hands, and laughing at us. Marie ran away at once; and when I tried to talk to them, they threw stones at me. All the village heard of it the same day, and Marie’s position became worse than ever. The children would not let her pass now in the streets, but annoyed her and threw dirt at her more than before. They used to run after her—she racing away with her poor feeble lungs panting and gasping, and they pelting her and shouting abuse at her.

“Once I had to interfere by force; and after that I took to speaking to them every day and whenever I could. Occasionally they stopped and listened; but they teased Marie all the same.

“I told them how unhappy Marie was, and after a while they stopped their abuse of her, and let her go by silently. Little by little we got into the way of conversing together, the children and I. I concealed nothing from them, I told them all. They listened very attentively and soon began to be sorry for Marie. At last some of them took to saying ‘Good-morning’ to her, kindly, when they met her. It is the custom there to salute anyone you meet with ‘Good-morning’ whether acquainted or not. I can imagine how astonished Marie was at these first greetings from the children.

“Once two little girls got hold of some food and took it to her, and came back and told me. They said she had burst into tears, and that they loved her very much now. Very soon after that they all became fond of Marie, and at the same time they began to develop the greatest affection for myself. They often came to me and begged me to tell them stories. I think I must have told stories well, for they did so love to hear them. At last I took to reading up interesting things on purpose to pass them on to the little ones, and this went on for all the rest of my time there, three years. Later, when everyone—even Schneider—was angry with me for hiding nothing from the children, I pointed out how foolish it was, for they always knew things, only they learnt them in a way that soiled their minds but not so from me. One has only to remember one’s own childhood to admit the truth of this. But nobody was convinced… It was two weeks before her mother died that I had kissed Marie; and when the clergyman preached that sermon the children were all on my side.

“When I told them what a shame it was of the parson to talk as he had done, and explained my reason, they were so angry that some of them went and broke his windows with stones. Of course I stopped them, for that was not right, but all the village heard of it, and how I caught it for spoiling the children! Everyone discovered now that the little ones had taken to being fond of Marie, and their parents were terribly alarmed; but Marie was so happy. The children were forbidden to meet her; but they used to run out of the village to the herd and take her food and things; and sometimes just ran off there and kissed her, and said, ‘Je vous aime, Marie!’ and then trotted back again. They imagined that I was in love with Marie, and this was the only point on which I did not undeceive them, for they got such enjoyment out of it. And what delicacy and tenderness they showed!

“In the evening I used to walk to the waterfall. There was a spot there which was quite closed in and hidden from view by large trees; and to this spot the children used to come to me. They could not bear that their dear Leon should love a poor girl without shoes to her feet and dressed all in rags and tatters. So, would you believe it, they actually clubbed together, somehow, and bought her shoes and stockings, and some linen, and even a dress! I can’t understand how they managed it, but they did it, all together. When I asked them about it they only laughed and shouted, and the little girls clapped their hands and kissed me. I sometimes went to see Marie secretly, too. She had become very ill, and could hardly walk. She still went with the herd, but could not help the herdsman any longer. She used to sit on a stone near, and wait there almost motionless all day, till the herd went home. Her consumption was so advanced, and she was so weak, that she used to sit with closed eyes, breathing heavily. Her face was as thin as a skeleton’s, and sweat used to stand on her white brow in large drops. I always found her sitting just like that. I used to come up quietly to look at her; but Marie would hear me, open her eyes, and tremble violently as she kissed my hands. I did not take my hand away because it made her happy to have it, and so she would sit and cry quietly. Sometimes she tried to speak; but it was very difficult to understand her. She was almost like a madwoman, with excitement and ecstasy, whenever I came. Occasionally the children came with me; when they did so, they would stand some way off and keep guard over us, so as to tell me if anybody came near. This was a great pleasure to them.

“When we left her, Marie used to relapse at once into her old condition, and sit with closed eyes and motionless limbs. One day she could not go out at all, and remained at home all alone in the empty hut; but the children very soon became aware of the fact, and nearly all of them visited her that day as she lay alone and helpless in her miserable bed.

“For two days the children looked after her, and then, when the village people got to know that Marie was really dying, some of the old women came and took it in turns to sit by her and look after her a bit. I think they began to be a little sorry for her in the village at last; at all events they did not interfere with the children any more, on her account.

“Marie lay in a state of uncomfortable delirium the whole while; she coughed dreadfully. The old women would not let the children stay in the room; but they all collected outside the window each morning, if only for a moment, and shouted ‘Bon jour, notre bonne Marie!’ and Marie no sooner caught sight of, or heard them, and she became quite animated at once, and, in spite of the old women, would try to sit up and nod her head and smile at them, and thank them. The little ones used to bring her nice things and sweets to eat, but she could hardly touch anything. Thanks to them, I assure you, the girl died almost perfectly happy. She almost forgot her misery, and seemed to accept their love as a sort of symbol of pardon for her offence, though she never ceased to consider herself a dreadful sinner. They used to flutter at her window just like little birds, calling out: ‘Nous t’aimons, Marie!’

“She died very soon; I had thought she would live much longer. The day before her death I went to see her for the last time, just before sunset. I think she recognized me, for she pressed my hand.

“Next morning they came and told me that Marie was dead. The children could not be restrained now; they went and covered her coffin with flowers, and put a wreath of lovely blossoms on her head. The pastor did not throw any more shameful words at the poor dead woman; but there were very few people at the funeral. However, when it came to carrying the coffin, all the children rushed up, to carry it themselves. Of course they could not do it alone, but they insisted on helping, and walked alongside and behind, crying.

“They have planted roses all round her grave, and every year they look alter the flowers and make Marie’s resting-place as beautiful as they can. I was in ill odour after all this with the parents of the children, and especially with the parson and schoolmaster. Schneider was obliged to promise that I should not meet them and talk to them; but we conversed from a distance by signs, and they used to write me sweet little notes. Afterwards I came closer than ever to those little souls, but even then it was very dear to me, to have them so fond of me.

“Schneider said that I did the children great harm by my pernicious ‘system’; what nonsense that was! And what did he mean by my system? He said afterwards that he believed I was a child myself—just before I came away. ‘You have the form and face of an adult’ he said, ‘but as regards soul, and character, and perhaps even intelligence, you are a child in the completest sense of the word, and always will be, if you live to be sixty.’ I laughed very much, for of course that is nonsense. But it is a fact that I do not care to be among grown-up people and much prefer the society of children. However kind people may be to me, I never feel quite at home with them, and am always glad to get back to my little companions. Now my companions have always been children, not because I was a child myself once, but because young things attract me. On one of the first days of my stay in Switzerland, I was strolling about alone and miserable, when I came upon the children rushing noisily out of school, with their slates and bags, and books, their games, their laughter and shouts—and my soul went out to them. I stopped and laughed happily as I watched their little feet moving so quickly. Girls and boys, laughing and crying; for as they went home many of them found time to fight and make peace, to weep and play. I forgot my troubles in looking at them. And then, all those three years, I tried to understand why men should be for ever tormenting themselves. I lived the life of a child there, and thought I should never leave the little village; indeed, I was far from thinking that I should ever return to Russia. But at last I recognized the fact that Schneider could not keep me any longer. And then something so important happened, that Schneider himself urged me to depart. I am going to see now if can get good advice about it. Perhaps my lot in life will be changed; but that is not the principal thing. The principal thing is the entire change that has already come over me. I left many things behind me—too many. They have gone. On the journey I said to myself, ‘I am going into the world of men. I don’t know much, perhaps, but a new life has begun for me.’ I made up my mind to be honest, and steadfast in accomplishing my task. Perhaps I shall meet with troubles and many disappointments, but I have made up my mind to be polite and sincere to everyone; more cannot be asked of me. People may consider me a child if they like. I am often called an idiot, and at one time I certainly was so ill that I was nearly as bad as an idiot; but I am not an idiot now. How can I possibly be so when I know myself that I am considered one?

“When I received a letter from those dear little souls, while passing through Berlin, I only then realized how much I loved them. It was very, very painful, getting that first little letter. How melancholy they had been when they saw me off! For a month before, they had been talking of my departure and sorrowing over it; and at the waterfall, of an evening, when we parted for the night, they would hug me so tight and kiss me so warmly, far more so than before. And every now and then they would turn up one by one when I was alone, just to give me a kiss and a hug, to show their love for me. The whole flock went with me to the station, which was about a mile from the village, and every now and then one of them would stop to throw his arms round me, and all the little girls had tears in their voices, though they tried hard not to cry. As the train steamed out of the station, I saw them all standing on the platform waving to me and crying ‘Hurrah!’ till they were lost in the distance.

“I assure you, when I came in here just now and saw your kind faces (I can read faces well) my heart felt light for the first time since that moment of parting. I think I must be one of those who are born to be in luck, for one does not often meet with people whom one feels he can love from the first sight of their faces; and yet, no sooner do I step out of the railway carriage than I happen upon you!

“I know it is more or less a shamefaced thing to speak of one’s feelings before others; and yet here am I talking like this to you, and am not a bit ashamed or shy. I am an unsociable sort of fellow and shall very likely not come to see you again for some time; but don’t think the worse of me for that. It is not that I do not value your society; and you must never suppose that I have taken offence at anything.

“You asked me about your faces, and what I could read in them; I will tell you with the greatest pleasure. You, Adelaida Ivanovna, have a very happy face; it is the most sympathetic of the three. Not to speak of your natural beauty, one can look at your face and say to one’s self, ‘She has the face of a kind sister.’ You are simple and merry, but you can see into another’s heart very quickly. That’s what I read in your face.

“You too, Alexandra Ivanovna, have a very lovely face; but I think you may have some secret sorrow. Your heart is undoubtedly a kind, good one, but you are not merry. There is a certain suspicion of ‘shadow’ in your face, like in that of Holbein’s Madonna in Dresden. So much for your face. Have I guessed right?

“As for your face, Lizabetha Prokofievna, I not only think, but am perfectly SURE, that you are an absolute child—in all, in all, mind, both good and bad-and in spite of your years. Don’t be angry with me for saying so; you know what my feelings for children are. And do not suppose that I am so candid out of pure simplicity of soul. Oh dear no, it is by no means the case! Perhaps I have my own very profound object in view.”


When the prince ceased speaking all were gazing merrily at him— even Aglaya; but Lizabetha Prokofievna looked the jolliest of all.

“Well!” she cried, “we HAVE ‘put him through his paces,’ with a vengeance! My dears, you imagined, I believe, that you were about to patronize this young gentleman, like some poor protege picked up somewhere, and taken under your magnificent protection. What fools we were, and what a specially big fool is your father! Well done, prince! I assure you the general actually asked me to put you through your paces, and examine you. As to what you said about my face, you are absolutely correct in your judgment. I am a child, and know it. I knew it long before you said so; you have expressed my own thoughts. I think your nature and mine must be extremely alike, and I am very glad of it. We are like two drops of water, only you are a man and I a woman, and I’ve not been to Switzerland, and that is all the difference between us.”

“Don’t be in a hurry, mother; the prince says that he has some motive behind his simplicity,” cried Aglaya.

“Yes, yes, so he does,” laughed the others.

“Oh, don’t you begin bantering him,” said mamma. “He is probably a good deal cleverer than all three of you girls put together. We shall see. Only you haven’t told us anything about Aglaya yet, prince; and Aglaya and I are both waiting to hear.”

“I cannot say anything at present. I’ll tell you afterwards.”

“Why? Her face is clear enough, isn’t it?”

“Oh yes, of course. You are very beautiful, Aglaya Ivanovna, so beautiful that one is afraid to look at you.”

“Is that all? What about her character?” persisted Mrs. Epanchin.

“It is difficult to judge when such beauty is concerned. I have not prepared my judgment. Beauty is a riddle.”

“That means that you have set Aglaya a riddle!” said Adelaida. “Guess it, Aglaya! But she’s pretty, prince, isn’t she?”

“Most wonderfully so,” said the latter, warmly, gazing at Aglaya with admiration. “Almost as lovely as Nastasia Philipovna, but quite a different type.”

All present exchanged looks of surprise.

“As lovely as WHO?” said Mrs. Epanchin. “As NASTASIA PHILIPOVNA? Where have you seen Nastasia Philipovna? What Nastasia Philipovna?”

“Gavrila Ardalionovitch showed the general her portrait just now.”

“How so? Did he bring the portrait for my husband?”

“Only to show it. Nastasia Philipovna gave it to Gavrila Ardalionovitch today, and the latter brought it here to show to the general.”

“I must see it!” cried Mrs. Epanchin. “Where is the portrait? If she gave it to him, he must have it; and he is still in the study. He never leaves before four o’clock on Wednesdays. Send for Gavrila Ardalionovitch at once. No, I don’t long to see HIM so much. Look here, dear prince, BE so kind, will you? Just step to the study and fetch this portrait! Say we want to look at it. Please do this for me, will you?”

“He is a nice fellow, but a little too simple,” said Adelaida, as the prince left the room.

“He is, indeed,” said Alexandra; “almost laughably so at times.”

Neither one nor the other seemed to give expression to her full thoughts.

“He got out of it very neatly about our faces, though,” said Aglaya. He flattered us all round, even mamma.”

“Nonsense” cried the latter. “He did not flatter me. It was I who found his appreciation flattering. I think you are a great deal more foolish than he is. He is simple, of course, but also very knowing. Just like myself.”

“How stupid of me to speak of the portrait,” thought the prince as he entered the study, with a feeling of guilt at his heart, “and yet, perhaps I was right after all.” He had an idea, unformed as yet, but a strange idea.

Gavrila Ardalionovitch was still sitting in the study, buried in a mass of papers. He looked as though he did not take his salary from the public company, whose servant he was, for a sinecure.

He grew very wroth and confused when the prince asked for the portrait, and explained how it came about that he had spoken of it.

“Oh, curse it all,” he said; “what on earth must you go blabbing for? You know nothing about the thing, and yet—idiot!” he added, muttering the last word to himself in irrepressible rage.

“I am very sorry; I was not thinking at the time. I merely said that Aglaya was almost as beautiful as Nastasia Philipovna.”

Gania asked for further details; and the prince once more repeated the conversation. Gania looked at him with ironical contempt the while.

“Nastasia Philipovna,” he began, and there paused; he was clearly much agitated and annoyed. The prince reminded him of the portrait.

“Listen, prince,” said Gania, as though an idea had just struck him, “I wish to ask you a great favour, and yet I really don’t know—”

He paused again, he was trying to make up his mind to something, and was turning the matter over. The prince waited quietly. Once more Gania fixed him with intent and questioning eyes.

“Prince,” he began again, “they are rather angry with me, in there, owing to a circumstance which I need not explain, so that I do not care to go in at present without an invitation. I particularly wish to speak to Aglaya, but I have written a few words in case I shall not have the chance of seeing her” (here the prince observed a small note in his hand), “and I do not know how to get my communication to her. Don’t you think you could undertake to give it to her at once, but only to her, mind, and so that no one else should see you give it? It isn’t much of a secret, but still—Well, will you do it?”

“I don’t quite like it,” replied the prince.

“Oh, but it is absolutely necessary for me,” Gania entreated. “Believe me, if it were not so, I would not ask you; how else am I to get it to her? It is most important, dreadfully important!”

Gania was evidently much alarmed at the idea that the prince would not consent to take his note, and he looked at him now with an expression of absolute entreaty.

“Well, I will take it then.”

“But mind, nobody is to see!” cried the delighted Gania “And of course I may rely on your word of honour, eh?”

“I won’t show it to anyone,” said the prince.

“The letter is not sealed—” continued Gania, and paused in confusion.

“Oh, I won’t read it,” said the prince, quite simply.

He took up the portrait, and went out of the room.

Gania, left alone, clutched his head with his hands.

“One word from her,” he said, “one word from her, and I may yet be free.”

He could not settle himself to his papers again, for agitation and excitement, but began walking up and down the room from corner to corner.

The prince walked along, musing. He did not like his commission, and disliked the idea of Gania sending a note to Aglaya at all; but when he was two rooms distant from the drawing-room, where they all were, he stopped a though recalling something; went to the window, nearer the light, and began to examine the portrait in his hand.

He longed to solve the mystery of something in the face Nastasia Philipovna, something which had struck him as he looked at the portrait for the first time; the impression had not left him. It was partly the fact of her marvellous beauty that struck him, and partly something else. There was a suggestion of immense pride and disdain in the face almost of hatred, and at the same time something confiding and very full of simplicity. The contrast aroused a deep sympathy in his heart as he looked at the lovely face. The blinding loveliness of it was almost intolerable, this pale thin face with its flaming eyes; it was a strange beauty.

The prince gazed at it for a minute or two, then glanced around him, and hurriedly raised the portrait to his lips. When, a minute after, he reached the drawing-room door, his face was quite composed. But just as he reached the door he met Aglaya coming out alone.

“Gavrila Ardalionovitch begged me to give you this,” he said, handing her the note.

Aglaya stopped, took the letter, and gazed strangely into the prince’s eyes. There was no confusion in her face; a little surprise, perhaps, but that was all. By her look she seemed merely to challenge the prince to an explanation as to how he and Gania happened to be connected in this matter. But her expression was perfectly cool and quiet, and even condescending.

So they stood for a moment or two, confronting one another. At length a faint smile passed over her face, and she passed by him without a word.

Mrs. Epanchin examined the portrait of Nastasia Philipovna for some little while, holding it critically at arm’s length.

“Yes, she is pretty,” she said at last, “even very pretty. I have seen her twice, but only at a distance. So you admire this kind of beauty, do you?” she asked the prince, suddenly.

“Yes, I do—this kind.”

“Do you mean especially this kind?”

“Yes, especially this kind.”


“There is much suffering in this face,” murmured the prince, more as though talking to himself than answering the question.

“I think you are wandering a little, prince,” Mrs. Epanchin decided, after a lengthened survey of his face; and she tossed the portrait on to the table, haughtily.

Alexandra took it, and Adelaida came up, and both the girls examined the photograph. Just then Aglaya entered the room.

“What a power!” cried Adelaida suddenly, as she earnestly examined the portrait over her sister’s shoulder.

“Whom? What power?” asked her mother, crossly.

“Such beauty is real power,” said Adelaida. “With such beauty as that one might overthrow the world.” She returned to her easel thoughtfully.

Aglaya merely glanced at the portrait—frowned, and put out her underlip; then went and sat down on the sofa with folded hands. Mrs. Epanchin rang the bell.

“Ask Gavrila Ardalionovitch to step this way,” said she to the man who answered.

“Mamma!” cried Alexandra, significantly.

“I shall just say two words to him, that’s all,” said her mother, silencing all objection by her manner; she was evidently seriously put out. “You see, prince, it is all secrets with us, just now—all secrets. It seems to be the etiquette of the house, for some reason or, other. Stupid nonsense, and in a matter which ought to be approached with all candour and open- heartedness. There is a marriage being talked of, and I don’t like this marriage—”

“Mamma, what are you saying?” said Alexandra again, hurriedly.

“Well, what, my dear girl? As if you can possibly like it yourself? The heart is the great thing, and the rest is all rubbish—though one must have sense as well. Perhaps sense is really the great thing. Don’t smile like that, Aglaya. I don’t contradict myself. A fool with a heart and no brains is just as unhappy as a fool with brains and no heart. I am one and you are the other, and therefore both of us suffer, both of us are unhappy.”

“Why are you so unhappy, mother?” asked Adelaida, who alone of all the company seemed to have preserved her good temper and spirits up to now.

“In the first place, because of my carefully brought-up daughters,” said Mrs. Epanchin, cuttingly; “and as that is the best reason I can give you we need not bother about any other at present. Enough of words, now! We shall see how both of you (I don’t count Aglaya) will manage your business, and whether you, most revered Alexandra Ivanovna, will be happy with your fine mate.”

“Ah!” she added, as Gania suddenly entered the room, “here’s another marrying subject. How do you do?” she continued, in response to Gania’s bow; but she did not invite him to sit down. “You are going to be married?”

“Married? how—what marriage?” murmured Gania, overwhelmed with confusion.

“Are you about to take a wife? I ask,—if you prefer that expression.”

“No, no I-I—no!” said Gania, bringing out his lie with a tell- tale blush of shame. He glanced keenly at Aglaya, who was sitting some way off, and dropped his eyes immediately.

Aglaya gazed coldly, intently, and composedly at him, without taking her eyes off his face, and watched his confusion.

“No? You say no, do you?” continued the pitiless Mrs. General. “Very well, I shall remember that you told me this Wednesday morning, in answer to my question, that you are not going to be married. What day is it, Wednesday, isn’t it?”

“Yes, I think so!” said Adelaida.

“You never know the day of the week; what’s the day of the month?”

“Twenty-seventh!” said Gania.

“Twenty-seventh; very well. Good-bye now; you have a good deal to do, I’m sure, and I must dress and go out. Take your portrait. Give my respects to your unfortunate mother, Nina Alexandrovna. Au revoir, dear prince, come in and see us often, do; and I shall tell old Princess Bielokonski about you. I shall go and see her on purpose. And listen, my dear boy, I feel sure that God has sent you to Petersburg from Switzerland on purpose for me. Maybe you will have other things to do, besides, but you are sent chiefly for my sake, I feel sure of it. God sent you to me! Au revoir! Alexandra, come with me, my dear.”

Mrs. Epanchin left the room.

Gania—confused, annoyed, furious—took up his portrait, and turned to the prince with a nasty smile on his face.

“Prince,” he said, “I am just going home. If you have not changed your mind as to living with us, perhaps you would like to come with me. You don’t know the address, I believe?”

“Wait a minute, prince,” said Aglaya, suddenly rising from her seat, “do write something in my album first, will you? Father says you are a most talented caligraphist; I’ll bring you my book in a minute.” She left the room.

“Well, au revoir, prince,” said Adelaida, “I must be going too.” She pressed the prince’s hand warmly, and gave him a friendly smile as she left the room. She did not so much as look at Gania.

“This is your doing, prince,” said Gania, turning on the latter so soon as the others were all out of the room. “This is your doing, sir! YOU have been telling them that I am going to be married!” He said this in a hurried whisper, his eyes flashing with rage and his face ablaze. “You shameless tattler!”

“I assure you, you are under a delusion,” said the prince, calmly and politely. “I did not even know that you were to be married.”

“You heard me talking about it, the general and me. You heard me say that everything was to be settled today at Nastasia Philipovna’s, and you went and blurted it out here. You lie if you deny it. Who else could have told them Devil take it, sir, who could have told them except yourself? Didn’t the old woman as good as hint as much to me?”

“If she hinted to you who told her you must know best, of course; but I never said a word about it.”

“Did you give my note? Is there an answer?” interrupted Gania, impatiently.

But at this moment Aglaya came back, and the prince had no time to reply.

“There, prince,” said she, “there’s my album. Now choose a page and write me something, will you? There’s a pen, a new one; do you mind a steel one? I have heard that you caligraphists don’t like steel pens.”

Conversing with the prince, Aglaya did not even seem to notice that Gania was in the room. But while the prince was getting his pen ready, finding a page, and making his preparations to write, Gania came up to the fireplace where Aglaya was standing, to the right of the prince, and in trembling, broken accents said, almost in her ear:

“One word, just one word from you, and I’m saved.”

The prince turned sharply round and looked at both of them. Gania’s face was full of real despair; he seemed to have said the words almost unconsciously and on the impulse of the moment.

Aglaya gazed at him for some seconds with precisely the same composure and calm astonishment as she had shown a little while before, when the prince handed her the note, and it appeared that this calm surprise and seemingly absolute incomprehension of what was said to her, were more terribly overwhelming to Gania than even the most plainly expressed disdain would have been.

“What shall I write?” asked the prince.

“I’ll dictate to you,” said Aglaya, coming up to the table. “Now then, are you ready? Write, ‘I never condescend to bargain!’ Now put your name and the date. Let me see it.”

The prince handed her the album.

“Capital! How beautifully you have written it! Thanks so much. Au revoir, prince. Wait a minute,”; she added, “I want to give you something for a keepsake. Come with me this way, will you?”

The prince followed her. Arrived at the dining-room, she stopped.

“Read this,” she said, handing him Gania’s note.

The prince took it from her hand, but gazed at her in bewilderment.

“Oh! I KNOW you haven’t read it, and that you could never be that man’s accomplice. Read it, I wish you to read it.”

The letter had evidently been written in a hurry:

“My fate is to be decided today” (it ran), “you know how. This day I must give my word irrevocably. I have no right to ask your help, and I dare not allow myself to indulge in any hopes; but once you said just one word, and that word lighted up the night of my life, and became the beacon of my days. Say one more such word, and save me from utter ruin. Only tell me, ‘break off the whole thing!’ and I will do so this very day. Oh! what can it cost you to say just this one word? In doing so you will but be giving me a sign of your sympathy for me, and of your pity; only this, only this; nothing more, NOTHING. I dare not indulge in any hope, because I am unworthy of it. But if you say but this word, I will take up my cross again with joy, and return once more to my battle with poverty. I shall meet the storm and be glad of it; I shall rise up with renewed strength.

“Send me back then this one word of sympathy, only sympathy, I swear to you; and oh! do not be angry with the audacity of despair, with the drowning man who has dared to make this last effort to save himself from perishing beneath the waters.


“This man assures me,” said Aglaya, scornfully, when the prince had finished reading the letter, “that the words ‘break off everything’ do not commit me to anything whatever; and himself gives me a written guarantee to that effect, in this letter. Observe how ingenuously he underlines certain words, and how crudely he glosses over his hidden thoughts. He must know that if he ‘broke off everything,’ FIRST, by himself, and without telling me a word about it or having the slightest hope on my account, that in that case I should perhaps be able to change my opinion of him, and even accept his—friendship. He must know that, but his soul is such a wretched thing. He knows it and cannot make up his mind; he knows it and yet asks for guarantees. He cannot bring himself to TRUST, he wants me to give him hopes of myself before he lets go of his hundred thousand roubles. As to the ‘former word’ which he declares ‘lighted up the night of his life,’ he is simply an impudent liar; I merely pitied him once. But he is audacious and shameless. He immediately began to hope, at that very moment. I saw it. He has tried to catch me ever since; he is still fishing for me. Well, enough of this. Take the letter and give it back to him, as soon as you have left our house; not before, of course.”

“And what shall I tell him by way of answer?”

“Nothing—of course! That’s the best answer. Is it the case that you are going to live in his house?”

“Yes, your father kindly recommended me to him.”

“Then look out for him, I warn you! He won’t forgive you easily, for taking back the letter.”

Aglaya pressed the prince’s hand and left the room. Her face was serious and frowning; she did not even smile as she nodded good- bye to him at the door.

“I’ll just get my parcel and we’ll go,” said the prince to Gania, as he re-entered the drawing-room. Gania stamped his foot with impatience. His face looked dark and gloomy with rage.

At last they left the house behind them, the prince carrying his bundle.

“The answer—quick—the answer!” said Gania, the instant they were outside. “What did she say? Did you give the letter?” The prince silently held out the note. Gania was struck motionless with amazement.

“How, what? my letter?” he cried. “He never delivered it! I might have guessed it, oh! curse him! Of course she did not understand what I meant, naturally! Why-why-WHY didn’t you give her the note, you—”

“Excuse me; I was able to deliver it almost immediately after receiving your commission, and I gave it, too, just as you asked me to. It has come into my hands now because Aglaya Ivanovna has just returned it to me.”

“How? When?”

“As soon as I finished writing in her album for her, and when she asked me to come out of the room with her (you heard?), we went into the dining-room, and she gave me your letter to read, and then told me to return it.”

“To READ?” cried Gania, almost at the top of his voice; “to READ, and you read it?”

And again he stood like a log in the middle of the pavement; so amazed that his mouth remained open after the last word had left it.

“Yes, I have just read it.”

“And she gave it you to read herself—HERSELF?”

“Yes, herself; and you may believe me when I tell you that I would not have read it for anything without her permission.”

Gania was silent for a minute or two, as though thinking out some problem. Suddenly he cried:

“It’s impossible, she cannot have given it to you to read! You are lying. You read it yourself!”

“I am telling you the truth,” said the prince in his former composed tone of voice; “and believe me, I am extremely sorry that the circumstance should have made such an unpleasant impression upon you!”

“But, you wretched man, at least she must have said something? There must be SOME answer from her!”

“Yes, of course, she did say something!”

“Out with it then, damn it! Out with it at once!” and Gania stamped his foot twice on the pavement.

“As soon as I had finished reading it, she told me that you were fishing for her; that you wished to compromise her so far as to receive some hopes from her, trusting to which hopes you might break with the prospect of receiving a hundred thousand roubles. She said that if you had done this without bargaining with her, if you had broken with the money prospects without trying to force a guarantee out of her first, she might have been your friend. That’s all, I think. Oh no, when I asked her what I was to say, as I took the letter, she replied that ‘no answer is the best answer.’ I think that was it. Forgive me if I do not use her exact expressions. I tell you the sense as I understood it myself.”

Ungovernable rage and madness took entire possession of Gania, and his fury burst out without the least attempt at restraint.

“Oh! that’s it, is it!” he yelled. “She throws my letters out of the window, does she! Oh! and she does not condescend to bargain, while I DO, eh? We shall see, we shall see! I shall pay her out for this.”

He twisted himself about with rage, and grew paler and paler; he shook his fist. So the pair walked along a few steps. Gania did not stand on ceremony with the prince; he behaved just as though he were alone in his room. He clearly counted the latter as a nonentity. But suddenly he seemed to have an idea, and recollected himself.

“But how was it?” he asked, “how was it that you (idiot that you are),” he added to himself, “were so very confidential a couple of hours after your first meeting with these people? How was that, eh?”

Up to this moment jealousy had not been one of his torments; now it suddenly gnawed at his heart.

“That is a thing I cannot undertake to explain,” replied the prince. Gania looked at him with angry contempt.

“Oh! I suppose the present she wished to make to you, when she took you into the dining-room, was her confidence, eh?”

“I suppose that was it; I cannot explain it otherwise?”

“But why, WHY? Devil take it, what did you do in there? Why did they fancy you? Look here, can’t you remember exactly what you said to them, from the very beginning? Can’t you remember?”

“Oh, we talked of a great many things. When first I went in we began to speak of Switzerland.”

“Oh, the devil take Switzerland!”

“Then about executions.”


“Yes—at least about one. Then I told the whole three years’ story of my life, and the history of a poor peasant girl—”

“Oh, damn the peasant girl! go on, go on!” said Gania, impatiently.

“Then how Schneider told me about my childish nature, and—”

“Oh, CURSE Schneider and his dirty opinions! Go on.”

“Then I began to talk about faces, at least about the EXPRESSIONS of faces, and said that Aglaya Ivanovna was nearly as lovely as Nastasia Philipovna. It was then I blurted out about the portrait—”

“But you didn’t repeat what you heard in the study? You didn’t repeat that—eh?”

“No, I tell you I did NOT.”

“Then how did they—look here! Did Aglaya show my letter to the old lady?”

“Oh, there I can give you my fullest assurance that she did NOT. I was there all the while—she had no time to do it!”

“But perhaps you may not have observed it, oh, you damned idiot, you!” he shouted, quite beside himself with fury. “You can’t even describe what went on.”

Gania having once descended to abuse, and receiving no check, very soon knew no bounds or limit to his licence, as is often the way in such cases. His rage so blinded him that he had not even been able to detect that this “idiot,” whom he was abusing to such an extent, was very far from being slow of comprehension, and had a way of taking in an impression, and afterwards giving it out again, which was very un-idiotic indeed. But something a little unforeseen now occurred.

“I think I ought to tell you, Gavrila Ardalionovitch,” said the prince, suddenly, “that though I once was so ill that I really was little better than an idiot, yet now I am almost recovered, and that, therefore, it is not altogether pleasant to be called an idiot to my face. Of course your anger is excusable, considering the treatment you have just experienced; but I must remind you that you have twice abused me rather rudely. I do not like this sort of thing, and especially so at the first time of meeting a man, and, therefore, as we happen to be at this moment standing at a crossroad, don’t you think we had better part, you to the left, homewards, and I to the right, here? I have twenty- five roubles, and I shall easily find a lodging.”

Gania was much confused, and blushed for shame “Do forgive me, prince!” he cried, suddenly changing his abusive tone for one of great courtesy. “For Heaven’s sake, forgive me! You see what a miserable plight I am in, but you hardly know anything of the facts of the case as yet. If you did, I am sure you would forgive me, at least partially. Of course it was inexcusable of me, I know, but—”

“Oh, dear me, I really do not require such profuse apologies,” replied the prince, hastily. “I quite understand how unpleasant your position is, and that is what made you abuse me. So come along to your house, after all. I shall be delighted—”

“I am not going to let him go like this,” thought Gania, glancing angrily at the prince as they walked along. ” The fellow has sucked everything out of me, and now he takes off his mask— there’s something more than appears, here we shall see. It shall all be as clear as water by tonight, everything!”

But by this time they had reached Gania’s house.


The flat occupied by Gania and his family was on the third floor of the house. It was reached by a clean light staircase, and consisted of seven rooms, a nice enough lodging, and one would have thought a little too good for a clerk on two thousand roubles a year. But it was designed to accommodate a few lodgers on board terms, and had beer) taken a few months since, much to the disgust of Gania, at the urgent request of his mother and his sister, Varvara Ardalionovna, who longed to do something to increase the family income a little, and fixed their hopes upon letting lodgings. Gania frowned upon the idea. He thought it infra dig, and did not quite like appearing in society afterwards—that society in which he had been accustomed to pose up to now as a young man of rather brilliant prospects. All these concessions and rebuffs of fortune, of late, had wounded his spirit severely, and his temper had become extremely irritable, his wrath being generally quite out of proportion to the cause. But if he had made up his mind to put up with this sort of life for a while, it was only on the plain understanding with his inner self that he would very soon change it all, and have things as he chose again. Yet the very means by which he hoped to make this change threatened to involve him in even greater difficulties than he had had before.

The flat was divided by a passage which led straight out of the entrance-hall. Along one side of this corridor lay the three rooms which were designed for the accommodation of the “highly recommended” lodgers. Besides these three rooms there was another small one at the end of the passage, close to the kitchen, which was allotted to General Ivolgin, the nominal master of the house, who slept on a wide sofa, and was obliged to pass into and out of his room through the kitchen, and up or down the back stairs. Colia, Gania’s young brother, a school-boy of thirteen, shared this room with his father. He, too, had to sleep on an old sofa, a narrow, uncomfortable thing with a torn rug over it; his chief duty being to look after his father, who needed to be watched more and more every day.

The prince was given the middle room of the three, the first being occupied by one Ferdishenko, while the third was empty.

But Gania first conducted the prince to the family apartments. These consisted of a “salon,” which became the dining-room when required; a drawing-room, which was only a drawing-room in the morning, and became Gania’s study in the evening, and his bedroom at night; and lastly Nina Alexandrovna’s and Varvara’s bedroom, a small, close chamber which they shared together.

In a word, the whole place was confined, and a “tight fit” for the party. Gania used to grind his teeth with rage over the state of affairs; though he was anxious to be dutiful and polite to his mother. However, it was very soon apparent to anyone coming into the house, that Gania was the tyrant of the family.

Nina Alexandrovna and her daughter were both seated in the drawing-room, engaged in knitting, and talking to a visitor, Ivan Petrovitch Ptitsin.

The lady of the house appeared to be a woman of about fifty years of age, thin-faced, and with black lines under the eves. She looked ill and rather sad; but her face was a pleasant one for all that; and from the first word that fell from her lips, any stranger would at once conclude that she was of a serious and particularly sincere nature. In spite of her sorrowful expression, she gave the idea of possessing considerable firmness and decision.

Her dress was modest and simple to a degree, dark and elderly in style; but both her face and appearance gave evidence that she had seen better days.

Varvara was a girl of some twenty-three summers, of middle height, thin, but possessing a face which, without being actually beautiful, had the rare quality of charm, and might fascinate even to the extent of passionate regard.

She was very like her mother: she even dressed like her, which proved that she had no taste for smart clothes. The expression of her grey eyes was merry and gentle, when it was not, as lately, too full of thought and anxiety. The same decision and firmness was to be observed in her face as in her mother’s, but her strength seemed to be more vigorous than that of Nina Alexandrovna. She was subject to outbursts of temper, of which even her brother was a little afraid.

The present visitor, Ptitsin, was also afraid of her. This was a young fellow of something under thirty, dressed plainly, but neatly. His manners were good, but rather ponderously so. His dark beard bore evidence to the fact that he was not in any government employ. He could speak well, but preferred silence. On the whole he made a decidedly agreeable impression. He was clearly attracted by Varvara, and made no secret of his feelings. She trusted him in a friendly way, but had not shown him any decided encouragement as yet, which fact did not quell his ardour in the least.

Nina Alexandrovna was very fond of him, and had grown quite confidential with him of late. Ptitsin, as was well known, was engaged in the business of lending out money on good security, and at a good rate of interest. He was a great friend of Gania’s.

After a formal introduction by Gania (who greeted his mother very shortly, took no notice of his sister, and immediately marched Ptitsin out of the room), Nina Alexandrovna addressed a few kind words to the prince and forthwith requested Colia, who had just appeared at the door, to show him to the ” middle room.”

Colia was a nice-looking boy. His expression was simple and confiding, and his manners were very polite and engaging.

“Where’s your luggage?” he asked, as he led the prince away to his room.

“I had a bundle; it’s in the entrance hall.”

“I’ll bring it you directly. We only have a cook and one maid, so I have to help as much as I can. Varia looks after things, generally, and loses her temper over it. Gania says you have only just arrived from Switzerland? “


“Is it jolly there?”




“I’ll go and get your bundle.”

Here Varvara joined them.

“The maid shall bring your bed-linen directly. Have you a portmanteau?”

“No; a bundle—your brother has just gone to the hall for it.”

“There’s nothing there except this,” said Colia, returning at this moment. “Where did you put it?”

“Oh! but that’s all I have,” said the prince, taking it.

“Ah! I thought perhaps Ferdishenko had taken it.”

“Don’t talk nonsense,” said Varia, severely. She seemed put out, and was only just polite with the prince.

“Oho!” laughed the boy, “you can be nicer than that to ME, you know—I’m not Ptitsin!”

“You ought to be whipped, Colia, you silly boy. If you want anything” (to the prince) “please apply to the servant. We dine at half-past four. You can take your dinner with us, or have it in your room, just as you please. Come along, Colia, don’t disturb the prince.”

At the door they met Gania coming in.

“Is father in?” he asked. Colia whispered something in his ear and went out.

“Just a couple of words, prince, if you’ll excuse me. Don’t blab over THERE about what you may see here, or in this house as to all that about Aglaya and me, you know. Things are not altogether pleasant in this establishment—devil take it all! You’ll see. At all events keep your tongue to yourself for TODAY.”

“I assure you I ‘blabbed’ a great deal less than you seem to suppose,” said the prince, with some annoyance. Clearly the relations between Gania and himself were by no means improving.

“Oh I well; I caught it quite hot enough today, thanks to you. However, I forgive you.”

“I think you might fairly remember that I was not in any way bound, I had no reason to be silent about that portrait. You never asked me not to mention it.”

“Pfu! what a wretched room this is—dark, and the window looking into the yard. Your coming to our house is, in no respect, opportune. However, it’s not MY affair. I don’t keep the lodgings.”

Ptitsin here looked in and beckoned to Gania, who hastily left the room, in spite of the fact that he had evidently wished to say something more and had only made the remark about the room to gain time. The prince had hardly had time to wash and tidy himself a little when the door opened once more, and another figure appeared.

This was a gentleman of about thirty, tall, broadshouldered, and red-haired; his face was red, too, and he possessed a pair of thick lips, a wide nose, small eyes, rather bloodshot, and with an ironical expression in them; as though he were perpetually winking at someone. His whole appearance gave one the idea of impudence; his dress was shabby.

He opened the door just enough to let his head in. His head remained so placed for a few seconds while he quietly scrutinized the room; the door then opened enough to admit his body; but still he did not enter. He stood on the threshold and examined the prince carefully. At last he gave the door a final shove, entered, approached the prince, took his hand and seated himself and the owner of the room on two chairs side by side.

“Ferdishenko,” he said, gazing intently and inquiringly into the prince’s eyes.

“Very well, what next?” said the latter, almost laughing in his face.

“A lodger here,” continued the other, staring as before.

“Do you wish to make acquaintance?” asked the prince.

“Ah!” said the visitor, passing his fingers through his hair and sighing. He then looked over to the other side of the room and around it. “Got any money?” he asked, suddenly.

“Not much.”

“How much?”

“Twenty-five roubles.”

“Let’s see it.”

The prince took his banknote out and showed it to Ferdishenko. The latter unfolded it and looked at it; then he turned it round and examined the other side; then he held it up to the light.

“How strange that it should have browned so,” he said, reflectively. “These twenty-five rouble notes brown in a most extraordinary way, while other notes often grow paler. Take it.”

The prince took his note. Ferdishenko rose.

“I came here to warn you,” he said. “In the first place, don’t lend me any money, for I shall certainly ask you to.”

“Very well.”

“Shall you pay here?”

“Yes, I intend to.”

“Oh! I DON’T intend to. Thanks. I live here, next door to you; you noticed a room, did you? Don’t come to me very often; I shall see you here quite often enough. Have you seen the general?”


“Nor heard him?”

“No; of course not.”

“Well, you’ll both hear and see him soon; he even tries to borrow money from me. Avis au lecteur. Good-bye; do you think a man can possibly live with a name like Ferdishenko?”

“Why not?”


And so he departed. The prince found out afterwards that this gentleman made it his business to amaze people with his originality and wit, but that it did not as a rule “come off.” He even produced a bad impression on some people, which grieved him sorely; but he did not change his ways for all that.

As he went out of the prince’s room, he collided with yet another visitor coming in. Ferdishenko took the opportunity of making several warning gestures to the prince from behind the new arrival’s back, and left the room in conscious pride.

This next arrival was a tall red-faced man of about fifty-five, with greyish hair and whiskers, and large eyes which stood out of their sockets. His appearance would have been distinguished had it not been that he gave the idea of being rather dirty. He was dressed in an old coat, and he smelled of vodka when he came near. His walk was effective, and he clearly did his best to appear dignified, and to impress people by his manner.

This gentleman now approached the prince slowly, and with a most courteous smile; silently took his hand and held it in his own, as he examined the prince’s features as though searching for familiar traits therein.

“‘Tis he, ‘tis he!” he said at last, quietly, but with much solemnity. “As though he were alive once more. I heard the familiar name-the dear familiar name—and, oh. I how it reminded me of the irrevocable past—Prince Muishkin, I believe ?”

“Exactly so.”

“General Ivolgin—retired and unfortunate. May I ask your Christian and generic names?”

“Lef Nicolaievitch.”

“So, so—the son of my old, I may say my childhood’s friend, Nicolai Petrovitch.”

“My father’s name was Nicolai Lvovitch.”

“Lvovitch,” repeated the general without the slightest haste, and with perfect confidence, just as though he had not committed himself the least in the world, but merely made a little slip of the tongue. He sat down, and taking the prince’s hand, drew him to a seat next to himself.

“I carried you in my arms as a baby,” he observed.

“Really?” asked the prince. “Why, it’s twenty years since my father died.”

“Yes, yes—twenty years and three months. We were educated together; I went straight into the army, and he—”

“My father went into the army, too. He was a sub-lieutenant in the Vasiliefsky regiment.”

“No, sir—in the Bielomirsky; he changed into the latter shortly before his death. I was at his bedside when he died, and gave him my blessing for eternity. Your mother—” The general paused, as though overcome with emotion.

“She died a few months later, from a cold,” said the prince.

“Oh, not cold—believe an old man—not from a cold, but from grief for her prince. Oh—your mother, your mother! heigh-ho! Youth—youth! Your father and I—old friends as we were—nearly murdered each other for her sake.”

The prince began to be a little incredulous.

“I was passionately in love with her when she was engaged— engaged to my friend. The prince noticed the fact and was furious. He came and woke me at seven o’clock one morning. I rise and dress in amazement; silence on both sides. I understand it all. He takes a couple of pistols out of his pocket—across a handkerchief—without witnesses. Why invite witnesses when both of us would be walking in eternity in a couple of minutes? The pistols are loaded; we stretch the handkerchief and stand opposite one another. We aim the pistols at each other’s hearts. Suddenly tears start to our eyes, our hands shake; we weep, we embrace—the battle is one of self-sacrifice now! The prince shouts, ‘She is yours;’ I cry, ‘She is yours—’ in a word, in a word—You’ve come to live with us, hey?”

“Yes—yes—for a while, I think,” stammered the prince.

“Prince, mother begs you to come to her,” said Colia, appearing at the door.

The prince rose to go, but the general once more laid his hand in a friendly manner on his shoulder, and dragged him down on to the sofa.

“As the true friend of your father, I wish to say a few words to you,” he began. “I have suffered—there was a catastrophe. I suffered without a trial; I had no trial. Nina Alexandrovna my wife, is an excellent woman, so is my daughter Varvara. We have to let lodgings because we are poor—a dreadful, unheard-of come- down for us—for me, who should have been a governor-general; but we are very glad to have YOU, at all events. Meanwhile there is a tragedy in the house.”

The prince looked inquiringly at the other.

“Yes, a marriage is being arranged—a marriage between a questionable woman and a young fellow who might be a flunkey. They wish to bring this woman into the house where my wife and daughter reside, but while I live and breathe she shall never enter my doors. I shall lie at the threshold, and she shall trample me underfoot if she does. I hardly talk to Gania now, and avoid him as much as I can. I warn you of this beforehand, but you cannot fail to observe it. But you are the son of my old friend, and I hope—”

“Prince, be so kind as to come to me for a moment in the drawing- room,” said Nina Alexandrovna herself, appearing at the door.

“Imagine, my dear,” cried the general, “it turns out that I have nursed the prince on my knee in the old days.” His wife looked searchingly at him, and glanced at the prince, but said nothing. The prince rose and followed her; but hardly had they reached the drawing-room, and Nina Alexandrovna had begun to talk hurriedly, when in came the general. She immediately relapsed into silence. The master of the house may have observed this, but at all events he did not take any notice of it; he was in high good humour.

“A son of my old friend, dear,” he cried; “surely you must remember Prince Nicolai Lvovitch? You saw him at—at Tver.”

“I don’t remember any Nicolai Lvovitch, Was that your father?” she inquired of the prince.

“Yes, but he died at Elizabethgrad, not at Tver,” said the prince, rather timidly. “So Pavlicheff told me.”

“No, Tver,” insisted the general; “he removed just before his death. You were very small and cannot remember; and Pavlicheff, though an excellent fellow, may have made a mistake.”

“You knew Pavlicheff then?”

“Oh, yes—a wonderful fellow; but I was present myself. I gave him my blessing.”

“My father was just about to be tried when he died,” said the prince, “although I never knew of what he was accused. He died in hospital.”

“Oh! it was the Kolpakoff business, and of course he would have been acquitted.”

“Yes? Do you know that for a fact?” asked the prince, whose curiosity was aroused by the general’s words.

“I should think so indeed!” cried the latter. “The court-martial came to no decision. It was a mysterious, an impossible business, one might say! Captain Larionoff, commander of the company, had died; his command was handed over to the prince for the moment. Very well. This soldier, Kolpakoff, stole some leather from one of his comrades, intending to sell it, and spent the money on drink. Well! The prince—you understand that what follows took place in the presence of the sergeant-major, and a corporal—the prince rated Kolpakoff soundly, and threatened to have him flogged. Well, Kolpakoff went back to the barracks, lay down on a camp bedstead, and in a quarter of an hour was dead: you quite understand? It was, as I said, a strange, almost impossible, affair. In due course Kolpakoff was buried; the prince wrote his report, the deceased’s name was removed from the roll. All as it should be, is it not? But exactly three months later at the inspection of the brigade, the man Kolpakoff was found in the third company of the second battalion of infantry, Novozemlianski division, just as if nothing had happened!”

“What?” said the prince, much astonished.

“It did not occur—it’s a mistake!” said Nina Alexandrovna quickly, looking, at the prince rather anxiously. “Mon mari se trompe,” she added, speaking in French.

“My dear, ‘se trompe’ is easily said. Do you remember any case at all like it? Everybody was at their wits’ end. I should be the first to say ‘qu’on se trompe,’ but unfortunately I was an eye- witness, and was also on the commission of inquiry. Everything proved that it was really he, the very same soldier Kolpakoff who had been given the usual military funeral to the sound of the drum. It is of course a most curious case—nearly an impossible one. I recognize that … but—”

“Father, your dinner is ready,” said Varvara at this point, putting her head in at the door.

“Very glad, I’m particularly hungry. Yes, yes, a strange coincidence—almost a psychological—”

“Your soup’ll be cold; do come.”

“Coming, coming ” said the general. “Son of my old friend—” he was heard muttering as he went down the passage.

“You will have to excuse very much in my husband, if you stay with us,” said Nina Alexandrovna; “but he will not disturb you often. He dines alone. Everyone has his little peculiarities, you know, and some people perhaps have more than those who are most pointed at and laughed at. One thing I must beg of you-if my husband applies to you for payment for board and lodging, tell him that you have already paid me. Of course anything paid by you to the general would be as fully settled as if paid to me, so far as you are concerned; but I wish it to be so, if you please, for convenience’ sake. What is it, Varia?”

Varia had quietly entered the room, and was holding out the portrait of Nastasia Philipovna to her mother.

Nina Alexandrovna started, and examined the photograph intently, gazing at it long and sadly. At last she looked up inquiringly at Varia.

“It’s a present from herself to him,” said Varia; “the question is to be finally decided this evening.”

“This evening!” repeated her mother in a tone of despair, but softly, as though to herself. “