A vital question; or, What is to be done?/Part Third

A vital question; or, What is to be done?  (1886)  by Nikolay Chernyshevsky, translated by Nathan Haskell Dole and Simon S. Skidelsky
Part Third.




Three months have passed since Viérotchka was rescued from the cellar. The Lopukhófs' affairs have prospered. He has had a fair number of pupils; he obtained work of a certain publisher, to translate a text-book on geography. Viéra Pavlovna also found two pupils, not of the highest grade, but still not to be despised. Together they have an income of eighty rubles a month. But such an income scarcely allows any one to live luxuriously, but they ran no risk of running into poverty. Their means have gradually increased, and they have calculated that in four months or even sooner they can set up their own establishment. And this was afterwards realized.

The system of their lives was arranged, of course not absolutely in accordance with Viérotchka's half-jesting, half-serious plan proposed on the day of their fantastic engagement, but nevertheless it was very much like it. The old man and woman at whose house they lived, gossiped together about the strange way in which the young couple lived—as though they were not young people at all, not even like husband and wife; like nobody else in the world.

"Well, now, Petrovna, it seems to me just as queer as it does to you. You could not tell for the life of you whether she wan't his sister and he her brother!"

"You think that's a good comparison, do you? Between brother and sister there ain't any ceremony at all. But look at them! He gits up, puts on his clo'es, and sits down and waits till the samovar is brought. Then he makes tea and calls her, and she too comes out all dressed. What kind of a brother and sister's that? You had better say this: being as there's poor folks who through their poverty have to live two families in one apartment; and you might compare them to such!"

"And how is it, Petrovna, that a husband can't go into his wife's room? When she ain't dressed, she don't let him in. What does that look like?"

"You ought to see how they part at night. She says: 'Proshchaï mílenki, good night.' Then they separate, each to sit in their own rooms. They read books, and he sometimes writes. Just you listen and I'll tell you what happened once. She went to bed and was reading a book. Then I heard through the partition (it happened I was wide awake that night); I hear her a gittin' up. And what do you think? I was list'nin'. She was a-standin' before her lookin' glass a-combin' of her hair. Well [nu], she seemed to be gittin' ready to go out to see some comp'ny. I was list'nin'. Out she went. Then [nu] I, too, goes out into the entry, gits up in a chair, and peeks through the transom into his room. I was list'nin' as she went to the door. 'Can I come in, mílenki? And he says, 'In a minute, Viérotchka.' He too was in bed. He put on his pants and his coat. Now [nu], thinks I, he'll be tyin' up his cravat. But he don't put on his cravat; he fixes hisself a little, and says, 'Now you can come in, Viérotchka.' Says she, 'I don't understand something in this book; please explain it to me.' He tells her. 'Well [nu], mílenki, forgive me for botherin' of you.' And says he, 'Oh, it's nothin', Viérotchka; I was only lyin' down, you haven't disturbed me.' And so [nu] she went out."

"And so she went out?"

"And so she went out."

"And wan't there nothin' more?"

"No, nothin' more. But it ain't so queer't she went out so, as 'twas 'cause she went and dressed herself when she went to see him. He says, 'Just wait.' Then he dressed hisself, and then he says, 'Come in.' You better tell me this: what kind of actions is them?"

"It must be this way, Petrovna; it's a kind of sect, I reckon, 'cause you know there's a good many kind of sects."

"It looks like it. See here! I guess your idee is right."

Here is another conversation:—

"Daniluitch, I axed her about them actions of theirn. Says I, 'Don't git mad at my question; but what's your religious views.' 'Of course,' says she, 'it's the Russian.' 'And your old man [supruzhnik].' 'His is Russian too,' she said. Says I, 'Don't you belong to any sec'?' Says she, 'No, I don't belong to any. What makes you think so?' 'Because,' says I, 'because, lady, I don't know whether to call you Miss or Mrs. Do you live with your old man?' She laughed. 'Why, yes, says she, 'o' course I do.'"

"She laughed, did she?"

"Yes, she did. 'O' course I live with him,' says she. 'Then,' says I, 'what makes you act as you do? You never see him without his clo'es on, as though you wan't his wife.' And, says she, 'It's because I don't want him to see me in dishabilly.' Oh no, they don' belong to any sec's at all. 'Then,' says I, 'what makes you do so?' 'So as to keep love in the house and git rid of quarrels,' says she."

"Well now, Petrovna, that looks as though she spoke the truth. Of course, she allus wants to look decent!"

"And then she goes on and says, says she, 'If I don't want other folks to see me in dishabilly, then why should my husband, whom I love more, see me before I have washed my face. It wouldn't do to show myself before him in any such way.'"

"Well, so does that look as though she spoke the truth, Petrovna. What makes men fall in love with other men's wives? It's because they see then nicely dressed, while they see their own wives—how did you call it? oh, yes, in dishabilly. It's said so in Holy Writ, in Solomon's Proverbs, and he was the wisest of the Tsars!"


The affairs of the Lopukhófs prospered. Viéra Pavlovna was always happy. But one time (this was some five months after the wedding) Dmitri Sergéitch, returning from one of his lessons, found his wife in a peculiar state of mind. Her eyes were shining with pride and happiness. This caused Dmitri Sergéitch to remember that for several days past he had seen in her some signs of mental exaltation, joyful thoughts, and tender pride.

"My dear, you seem to be so happy; why don't you give us the benefit of it?"

"I think I am, my dear; but you just wait a little while. I will tell you when I am sure that I am right. You must wait for several days. And it is going to be a great joy to me, and you too will be glad, I am sure; and Kirsánof and Mertsálof will be pleased with it."

"But what in the world is it?"

"Ah, you have forgotten our agreement, haven't you, not to ask questions? I will tell you when I am sure of it."

Another week passed by.

"My mílenki, I am going to tell you my joy; only you must give me your advice, because you know all about it. You know that I have been wanting for a long, long time to do something great; and I have made up my mind that we must start a sewing union. Isn't that a good idea?"

"Now, my dear, we made an agreement that I should not kiss your hand, but that was a general rule; it did not include such an occasion as this. Give me your hand, Viéra Pavlovna!"

"By and by, my mílenki, when I have succeeded in doing it."

"When you have succeeded, then I shall not be the only one to kiss it: Kirsánof and Alekséi Petrovitch, all will want to kiss it. But now I am alone; and the intention is worthy of it."

"Violence! I shall scream!"

"Scream then!"

"Mílenki moï! I shall be ashamed, and tell you nothing. As though it were anything of such great importance!"

"Here is where its importance lies: we all make plans, but we don't accomplish anything. But you began to think long after the rest of us, and sooner than all of us have resolved to put your ideas to the test."

Viérotchka bent her head on her husband's breast, and hid her face. "My dear, you have praised me to death."

Her husband kissed her head. "What a clever little head!"

"Mílenki moï, stop! It is impossible to tell you anything! Do you know what kind of a man you are?"

"I will stop. Tell me, my tender-hearted girl."

"Don't you dare to address me so!"

"Well, you hard-hearted one."

"Akh! what kind of a man are you, all the time interrupting me? Just listen. Sit down quietly. Here, it seems to me, is the main thing: that at the very beginning, when you select a few, to make the selection very carefully. You must have really honorable, good people, not narrow-minded, not fickle, but steady, and at the same time gentle, so that there should not be any idle quarrels among them, and that they should be able to select others of the same kind. Isn't that so?"

"Yes, dear."

"Now, I have three such girls. Akh! how long I had to hunt! Now here, my dearest, for the last three months I have been going round among the shops trying to make acquaintances, and I have succeeded. Such nice girls! I have got thoroughly acquainted with them."

"And then, moreover, they must be thoroughly up in their art. The business must stand on its own merits. Everything must have a solid foundation of mercantile calculations."

"Akh! of course it must."

"What more is left? Why do you need my advice, then?"

"In regard to the details, moï mílenki."

"Tell me the details. Of course you must have thought yourself about everything, and you will be able to accommodate yourself to circumstances. You know that the most important thing here is principle, character, and knowledge. Details come of themselves from the conditions peculiar to every circumstance."

"I know; but after all, when you give your approval, I shall be more assured."

They talked for a long time. Lopukhóf found nothing to correct in his wife's plan; but as far as she was concerned, the plan developed and became more and more clear as she talked it over with him.

On the next day Lopukhóf took to the office of the "Police News" an advertisement: "Viéra Pavlovna Lopukhóva would take orders for sewing ladies' garments, linen, etc., at moderate prices, etc."

On that very morning Viéra Pavlovna went to see Julie.

"She does not know my married name. Tell her Mademoiselle Rozálskaïa."

"My child, you are without a veil. You come to me openly, and tell your name to the servant. Now this is sheer folly. You are ruining yourself, my child!"

"Yes, but I am married now, and I can go wherever I please, and do what I want to."

"But your husband; he may find it out."

"He will be here in an hour."

Then the questions began as to how she got married. Julie was delighted. She hugged her, she kissed her, she wept. When she became calmer, Viéra Pavlovna told her the purpose of her visit.

"You know that old friends are not thought of, except when their help is needed. I have a great favor to ask of you. I am going to establish a sewing shop. Give me your orders and recommend me to your acquaintances. I myself sew nicely and I have good apprentices. You know one of them." And, in fact, Julie knew one of them to be a good seamstress. "Here are specimens of my work. This garment I made myself; you see how nicely it fits."

Julie examined very carefully the fit of the garment; she looked at the embroidery of the shawl, at the little cuffs, and she was satisfied.

"My child, you might be very successful; you have both skill and taste. But to succeed you must have a great shop on the Nevsky."

"Yes, I shall establish one there in good time. Now I take orders at home."

Having finished talking about business, they began to talk again about Viérotchka's marriage.

"And that Storeshnik drank terribly for a couple of weeks, and then he made up with Adèle. And I am very glad for Adèle's sake. He is a kind fellow. I am only sorry that Adèle has not a better reputation."

As it came up naturally, Julie began to talk about the adventures of Adèle and others. Now Mademoiselle Rozálskaïa is a married lady, and Julie does not think it necessary to hold her tongue. At first she spoke reasonably; then she was drawn away, drawn away, and began with delight to depict their dissipated existence, and she went on and on. Viéra Pavlovna was embarrassed, but Julie did not heed it. Viéra Pavlovna recovered her self-possession, and listened with that cruel interest with which you examine the features of a lovely face disfigured by disease. But Lopukhóf came in. Julie in an instant was changed into a stately woman of the world, full of the sternest dignity. However, she did not keep up that rôle very long. After she had congratulated Lopukhóf on his wife, "such a beauty," she again got excited. "Now, we must celebrate your wedding." She ordered a breakfast off-hand; she offered champagne. Viérotchka had to drink half a glass in honor of her wedding, half a glass in honor of her "union," and half a glass in honor of Julie herself. Her head began to turn. She and Julie shout, laugh, and get excited. Julie pinches Viérotchka; she jumps; she runs away, Viérotchka after her; they run all over the apartment, jumping over the chairs; Lopukhóf sits and laughs. It ended with Julie making up her mind to exhibit her strength.

"I am going to lift you up with one hand!"

"You can't do it!"

They began to wrestle; they both fell on the sofa and neither felt like getting up, and so they lay there laughing until they fell asleep.

For the first time in many years Lopukhóf did not know what to do. "Should he waken them? It is a pity; you may spoil a pleasant meeting by making a bad ending!" He carefully got up, went across the room to see if he could find a book. He found a book, "Chronique de l'Œil de Bœuf," in comparison with which "Faublas" is virtue itself. He sat down on a sofa, at the other end of the room, began to read, and in a quarter of an hour, he himself fell asleep through tediousness.

In two hours, Pauline wakened Julie: it was dinner time. They sat down alone without Serge, who had gone to some great dinner. Julie and Viérotchka again got hilarious, and then again they grew serious; when they bade each other farewell they became entirely serious, and Julie thought of asking—she had never had a chance to do so before—why Viérotchka meant to establish a sewing shop. If she wanted to make money, then it would be much easier if she would become an actress, or a singer: she has such a strong voice. This matter caused them to sit down again. Viérotchka began to describe her plan, and Julie again became enthusiastic, and she poured out blessings, and, among other things, she declared that she, Julie Le Tellier, was an abandoned woman, and she wept, but she knew what virtue was, and again she wept, and again she kissed her, and again she broke out into blessings.

Four days later Julie came to Viéra Pavlovna and gave her a good many orders for herself; she gave her the addresses of a number of her friends, from whom she might also receive orders. She brought Serge along with her, telling him that it could not be avoided: "Lopukhóf called on me, and now you must return it." Julie behaved with exemplary seriousness, and kept it up without the least failure, although she stayed at the Lopukhófs' a long time. She saw that there were no thick walls, but thin partitions, and that her remarks might be overheard. She did not get excited, but she fell rather into a bucolic frame of mind, looking with delight at all the particulars of the poor estate of the Lopukhófs', and finding that that was the way to live; that men ought not to live otherwise; that only in moderate circumstances is true happiness possible, and she even announced to Serge that she would go with him to live in Switzerland, where they would have a little house amid the fields and mountains, on the shore of a lake, loving each other, fishing, taking care of their garden. Serge declared that he was perfectly ready, but he wanted to wait and see what she would say at the end of three or four hours.

The thunder of the elegant carriage, and the prancing of Julie's wonderful horses, made a startling impression on the inhabitants of the fifth block, between the Middle and the Little Prospekts, where nothing of the sort had been seen, at least since the time of Peter the Great, if not longer. Many eyes were looking as the wonderful phenomenon stopped at the locked gates of a one-storied, frame building, with its seven windows, and when from the wonderful carriage stepped the still more wonderful phenomenon of an elegant lady, with a brilliant officer, whose important position could not be doubted. The grief was general, when in a moment the gates were opened, and the carriage rolled into the dvor; curiosity was deprived of the hope of seeing the graceful officer, and still more graceful lady, a second time, when they took their departure. When Daniluitch returned home from his peddling, Petrovna had a talk with him:—

"Daniluitch, well our tenants must be from among very important folks. A general and a generálsha came to see them. The generálsha was dressed so elegant that I can't begin to tell you; and the general had two stars!"

How Petrovna came to see the stars on Serge, who had never had any decorations, and would not have worn them if he had had them, while out on service with Julie, is a wonderful circumstance; but that she actually saw them; that she was not mistaken, and did not exaggerate, for this I will not take her word; but I will myself be responsible for her: she did actually see them. It is we who know that he did not have them; but he had such an appearance, that from Petrovna's standpoint, it was impossible not to see two stars on him,—and so she saw them; I am not joking when I tell you that she really saw them.

"And what livery the lackey wore, Daniluitch! Real English stuff, five rubles an arshín; such a solemn man he was, and so important, but just as perlite as could be; he give me a civil answer; he allowed me to feel of his sleeve; elegant cloth. They seem to have so much money that they feed it out to their chickens.[1] And they sat in our tenants' rooms, Daniluitch, and talked with them cosily, for more'n two hours, just as I talk with you, and them tenants did not even bow to them, and they were joking with them, and the tenant was sitting with the general, both of them sitting comfortably on the chair, and they were smoking! and our tenant smoked right in the general's face, and he sat comfortably before him! what else? His cigarette went out, and then he lighted it at the general's! And with what grace the general kissed our lady's little hand! why, I can't begin to tell you! What can we make out of this, Daniluitch?"

"Everything is from God, is the way I reason it; I reckon that whether it's acquaintance or relation, it's all from God."

"So it is, Daniluitch; there's no doubt about it; but this is what I think: that either our tenant or his wife are either a brother or a sister of either the general or the generálsha. And, to tell you the truth, I think that she must be the general's sister."

"What makes you think so, Petrovna? It don't seem natural. If it was so, then they'd have money."

"That's a fact, Daniluitch. It must be this way: either the mother or the father had a natural child; because they don't favor each other. Really, there ain't no resemblance 't all."

"That may be, Petrovna; perhaps there was a natural child. Such things do happen."

Petrovna, for four whole days, enjoyed great importance in her little store. This little store for three whole days drew a part of the public from the store on the other side of the street. Petrovna, for the sake of enlightening the public during these days, even neglected her work to a certain extent, and slaked the thirst of those who were thirsting for knowledge.

The result of all this was that within a week Pavel Konstantinuitch came to see his daughter and son-in-law.

Marya Alekséyevna had been anxious to gather some information about the lives led by her daughter and the "villain." It was not done systematically or constantly, and, for the most part, it arose from a scientific instinct of curiosity. One of her little gossiping acquaintances, who lived on the Vasilyevsky Island, was entrusted with the task of finding out about Viéra Pavlovna, whenever she happened to pass by where she lived; and the gossip brought her reports, as often as once a month, or even oftener, according to circumstances. "The Lopukhófs live in harmony; they have no quarrels; there's only one thing: there are a good many young folks call on them, and all the young men are good friends and modest. They do not live luxuriously; but apparently they have money. They not only do not sell; but they buy. She has made herself two silk dresses. They have bought two sofas, an oblong table, a half a dozen chairs,—they got them at a bargain, for forty rubles; but the furniture is good, and it would ordinarily cost a hundred rubles. They have notified the landlord to look for new tenants. 'We are going to leave in about a month for our new quarters; and to you,'—that is, the landlord,—'we are very grateful for your kindness to us.' 'Nu!' say the landlord; 'of course,' says he; 'and we for yours.'"

Marya Alekséyevna was consoled by these reports. Though she was a very rough and a very wicked woman, though she had tormented her daughter and was ready to kill her, to ruin her for her own interests, and though she cursed her, because, through her, she had failed in her plan of getting rich,—all this is true; but does it follow from this that she felt no love for her daughter? It does not follow at all. When the matter was ended, when her daughter tore herself away from her power forever, what could she do? Whatever falls from the wagon is lost. For all that, she is her daughter; and now, when there was no chance whatsoever for Viéra Pavlovna to serve Marya Alekséyevna's interests, the mother sincerely wished her daughter good. And then, again, it does not follow that she would wish things to be God-knows-how, that it made no difference with her; she certainly had not subjected her to any system of espionage. The steps taken for watching her daughter were only adopted because she, you must confess, was morally obliged to watch her; well, and in exactly the same way, as regards the wishes for her good, she had to do it, because she was her daughter. Why shouldn't she be reconciled? All the more when the villanous son-in-law is, according to all appearances, a man of solid character. Maybe he will be of service in time. Thus Marya Alekséyevna, little by little, approached the thought of renewing her relations with her daughter. It might have to wait half a year, or even a year, to accomplish it; but there was no need of being in a hurry; time is patient. But the news about the general and the generálsha at once pushed the story forward, fully all the remainder of the last half way. The villain has really proved to be a rogue. An ex-student (studentishka), without rank, with only a few rubles, he has made friends with a young, and therefore a very important, and rich general, and the two wives have become acquainted. Such a man will get ahead! Or even, may be, Viéra made friends with the generálsha, and introduced her husband to the general; it is all the same. At all events, Viéra will get on.

And so, soon after getting the news of the famous visit, the father was sent to announce to the daughter that her mother had forgiven her, and would be glad to see her. Viéra Pavlovna went with Pavel Konstantinuitch and her husband, and they spent the early part of the evening there. The meeting was cold and constrained. They spoke much about Feódor, because it was not a dangerous subject. He had gone to the gymnasium; they persuaded Marya Alekséyevna to put him into the gymnasium boarding-school. Dmitri Sergéitch would visit him there, and during his holidays Viéra Pavlovna would take him home with her. Somehow or other they managed to spend the time until tea was ready, and then they made haste to leave. The Lopukhófs said that they expected callers.

For half a year Viéra Pavlovna had breathed pure air; her lungs had entirely forgotten the bad atmosphere of wily words, vile thoughts, low schemes, all for the sake of lucre, and her cellar made a horrible impression upon her. Filth, misery, vulgarity of every sort,—everything came up before her eyes with the keenness of a novelty.

"How did I ever have the strength to live in such miserable bonds? How could I ever breathe in that cellar? And I not only lived and breathed there, but even grew strong and well! It is wonderful! it is incomprehensible! How could I grow up there into a love for goodness? It is incomprehensible! It is beyond belief!" thought Viéra Pavlovna, as she returned home; and she felt herself rescued from suffocation.

In a little while after they got home, the guests whom they expected came, their regular cronies,—Alekséi Petróvitch, and Natalia Andreyevna, and Kirsánof; and the evening passed as it usually did. How doubly happy seemed her new life to Viéra Pavlovna, with its pure thoughts, in the society of wholesome people! As was customary, they had a jolly conversation, with many anecdotes, and at the same time they talked seriously about everything in the world: on the historical events of the time (the civil war in Kansas, the forerunner of the great war between the North and the South, which is now going on, the forerunner of still greater events, not in America alone, occupied the minds of this circle. Now everybody talks about politics, but then, only a few felt any interest in this subject, and in this small number, were Lopukhóf, Kirsánof and their friends); and they talked about the arguments of that day, as to the chemical foundations of agriculture according to the theory of Liebig, and about the laws of historical progress, without which never a conversation in society like this could go on; and about the great importance of distinguishing between real desires, which search, and seek, and find satisfaction for themselves; and fantastic wishes, which cannot be realized, and which cannot find any satisfaction, like the fantastic thirst in time of fever, for which, for the one, as well as for the other, there is one satisfaction,—to cure the organism, by whose diseased state they are engendered through the disfiguring of actual wishes and finally, about the importance of this radical differentiation which was brought out at that time by the anthropological philosophy, and about everything of this sort, and not of this sort, but allied. The ladies at times listened to these scientific discussions, which were spoken as though there were no scientific terms, and took a share asking questions sometimes, but more often not waiting for the answers; and they have even thrown cold water on Lopukhóf and Alekséi Petróvitch, when they get too much interested in the great importance of recent mineral improvements: but Alekséi Petróvitch and Lopukhóf discussed their scientific questions, and were not disturbed. Kirsánof was a bad help-meet; he was more; even entirely, on the side of the ladies, and they all three played, sang, laughed, till late into the night, and then, becoming tired, they finally separated, even the immovable enthusiasts for serious conversation.



And here Viéra Pavlovna falls asleep, and Viéra Pavlovna dreams a dream.

A field, and across the field goes a man, namely, her mílenki, together with Alekséi Petróvitch, and her mílenki says: "You are interested in knowing why some dirt brings forth wheat so white, and pure, and delicate, while other dirt does not bring it forth at all. You will soon see the difference yourself. Look at the root of this beautiful ear of wheat. Around the root is dirt, but this dirt is just pulled up, you might even call it clean; you smell a moist odor, disagreeable, but not foul, and not putrid. You know that in the philosophical language which you and I use, this clean dirt is called actual dirt. It is dirt, to be sure; but look at it attentively and you will see that all the elements of which it is composed are healthy in themselves. When they are gathered together, they make dirt; but let the atoms change in some degree their relative co-ordination, and something else will take its place, and all that takes its place will be healthy, because the fundamental elements are healthy. Whence comes the healthy element of this dirt? Just notice the situation of this little field: you see that there is a ditch here for the water to run, and therefore there can be no rottenness here."

"Yes, motion is reality," says Alekséi Petróvitch, "because motion is life; and reality and life are one and the same thing. But the main element of life is labor, and therefore, the main element of reality is labor, and the truest sign of reality is activity."

"So you see, Alekséi Petróvitch, when the sun begins to warm this dirt, and the warmth begins to transfer its elements into a more complicated chemical correlation, into the correlation of higher forms, the wheat ear which grows out of this dirt through the warmth of the sun will be a healthy wheat ear."

"Yes, it is because it is the soil of actual life, Alekséi Petróvitch."

"Now let us go to the next field; let us also here pull up a plant, and examine its root. It is also dirty. But just notice the nature of this dirt. It is not hard to see that this dirt is rotten."

"This is fantastic dirt, to use the scientific terminology," says Alekséi Petróvitch.

"It's so; the elements of this dirt are in an unhealthy state. It is natural that no matter how they are transposed, the things not resembling dirt, derived from this dirt will be unhealthy and rotten."

"Yes; it is because the very elements are unhealthy," says Alekséi Petróvitch.

"It will not be hard for us to find the cause of this unhealthiness."

"That is, of this fantastic rottenness," says Alekséi Petróvitch.

"Yes, the rottenness of these elements; if you will notice the situation of this field, you see the water has no ditch, and there it becomes stagnant and rotten."

"Yes, absence of motion is absence of labor," says Alekséi Petróvitch. "Because labor is shown in anthropological analysis to be the radical form of motion, and which gives foundation and material for all other forms,—recreation, rest, amusement, gayety; all these without the preliminary labor have no reality; and without motion, there is no life, that is, there is no reality; therefore, this dirt is fantastic, in other words, rotten. Till within a short time ago, men did not know how to restore health to such fields; but now means has been found; that is, drainage. The superfluous water runs off in canals, and enough remains, and it is kept in motion, and the field becomes practicable. But as long as this means is not applied, the dirt remains fantastic, that is to say, rotten, and it cannot produce any good crops; whereas, as is very natural, from the good dirt they get good crops, because it is healthy dirt. And this is what we wanted to prove; quod erat demonstrandum, as they say in Latin."

As they spoke in Latin the words meaning "which was to be proven," Viéra Pavlovna did not catch the words.

"And you, Alekséi Petróvitch, have a desire to amuse yourself with hog-Latin and syllogisms," says her mílenki; that is, her husband.

Viéra Pavlovna here seemed to join them and say, "Now do stop talking about your analyses, identities, and anthropologisms. Please talk about something, gentlemen, so that I may take part in your conversation; or rather, let us play."

"Yes, let us play," said Alekséi Petróvitch. "Let us play 'Confession.'"

"Came on! come on! It'll be very gay," says Viéra Pavlovna. "You suggested the game; now you must show us how to do it."

"With pleasure, my sister," says Alekséi Petróvitch. "But how old are you, my dear sister? eighteen?"

"I shall soon be nineteen."

"But you are not yet; therefore, let us suppose that you are eighteen, and we will all confess what we did till we were eighteen, because we must have an equality of conditions. I will confess for myself and my wife. My father was a diakon in a governmental town, and then he took up the business of book-binding; and my mother took seminarists to board. From morning till night my father and mother were always worrying and talking about how to live. Father used to drink, but only at times when intolerable want stared him in the face—that was real grief; or, when his income was pretty good, he used to give my mother all he had, and say, 'Well, mátushka, now thank God, you will not suffer want for two months to come; but I have left half a ruble in my pocket, and I shall take a drink for very joy'—that was a real joy. My mother used to get vexed very often. Sometimes she used to beat me, but only when she had a pain in the small of the back, as she herself used to say, from lifting the boiler and kettles, from washing all the clothes of five of us besides five seminarists, and from washing the floors dirtied by our twenty feet which did not wear galoshes, and from taking care of the cow. It is a real strain upon the nerves to bear too much labor without rest. And for all that, the ends did not used to meet, as she expressed it; that is, she was short of money for getting boots for some one of us brothers, or shoes for the sisters. Then she used to beat us. She used to pet us too, when we, stupid little children that we were, expressed a desire to help her in her work, or whenever we did anything clever, or whenever she took a very rare moment of rest, and her back did not ache, as she used to say—all that was a real joy—"

"Akh! don't tell us anything more about your real sorrows and joys," says Viéra Pavlovna.

"If that is the case, perhaps you would like to hear Natasha's confession?"

"I do not want to hear it. She, too, had the same kind of real sorrows and joys, I am sure of it."

"That's absolutely true."

"But, maybe, you will be interested in hearing my confession," says Serge, who suddenly appeared to be with them.

"We will see," says Viéra Pavlovna.

"My father and mother, though they were rich, yet they always worried and talked about money. Rich people, too, are not free from such kinds of worriment—"

"You don't know how to play 'Confession,' Serge," said Alekséi Petróvitch, politely. "Please tell me why they worried about money matters? What expenses worried them? What necessities put them into embarrassment?"

"Yes, I understand why you ask that," said Serge; "but let us drop this subject. Let us turn to the other view of their thoughts. They, too, took care of their children."

"But they always had enough to give their children, didn't they?" asked Alekséi Petróvitch.

"Of course; but they had to look out that—"

"Don't play 'Confession,' Serge," said Alekséi Petróvitch. "We know your whole story; care about superfluities, thoughts about things not necessary, have been the soil in which you grew up; that is, a fantastic soil. Just look at yourself! You are naturally not at all a stupid man, but a very good man; maybe not worse and not more stupid than we are; but what are you good for? what is the use of your living?"

"I am good for escorting Julie everywhere that she wants me to go. I help Julie to spend all the money she wants to spend," replies Serge.

"From this we see," says Alekséi Petróvitch, "that a fantastic and unhealthy soil—"

"Akh! how tired I am of your realism and fantasticism! I don't know what they mean by such terms, and still they keep on using them," says Viéra Pavlovna.

"Wouldn't you like to talk with me?" asks Marya Alekséyevna, who also appeared suddenly. "You gentlemen get away from here, for I want to talk with my daughter."

All disappear. Viérotchka finds herself alone with Marya Alekséyevna. Marya Alekséyevna's face assumes a laughing expression.

"Viéra Pavlovna, you are an educated woman; you are so virtuous and high-toned," says Marya Alekséyevna, and her voice trembles with anger; "you are so kind; how can I then, who am rough and a drunkard, talk with you? Viéra Pavlovna, you have a bad and beastly mother; but allow me to ask, lady, why your mother took all the bother she did for you? It was about victuals. This, according to your idea, is a genuine care peculiar to humanity; isn't that so? You have had scoldings, you have seen bad deeds and meanness; but allow me to ask what they were meant for? Was it for nothing? Was it all nonsense? No, lady; no matter how things go in your family, it was not an empty, fantastic life. You see, Viéra Pavlovna, I have learned to speak as you do, in scientific language. But it may grieve you and shame you, Viéra Pavlovna, that your mother is a bad and ill-tempered woman? Would you like, Viéra Pavlovna, for me to become a good and honest woman? I am an enchantress, Viéra Pavlovna; I can bewitch things; I can fulfil your wish. Just look, Viéra Pavlovna! your wish is already being fulfilled. I, who am vixenish, vanish. Look at this kind mother and her daughter!"

A room. On the door-sill snores a drunken, unshaven, miserable man. Who it is cannot be told; his face is half covered with his hand, and the rest is discolored and bruised. A bed. On the bed a woman; yes, it is Marya Alekséyevna; but how kind, but how pale she is! how feeble, though she is only forty-five years old! how exhausted! By the bedside is a young girl of eighteen. "It is I myself, Viérotchka; but how ragged I seem! What does this mean? my complexion is so yellow, and my features are so rough! and what a miserable chamber! Scarcely any furniture!"

"Viérotchka, my dear, my angel," says Marya Alekséyevna, "just lie down and take a rest, my treasure. Why do you watch with me? I can attend to myself. This is the third night that you have not slept."

"Never mind; I am not tired," says Viérotchka.

"I am not any better, Viérotchka. How will you get along without me? Your father's pittance is as small as it can be, and he himself is a poor support to you. You are a pretty girl. There are many bad people in this world. There will be no one to watch over you. I tremble for you." Viérotchka weeps.

"My dear, don't be grieved; I am telling you this, not to blame you, but to warn you. What made you leave home on Friday, the day before I fell sick?" Viérotchka weeps.

"He will deceive you, Viérotchka. Give him up."

"No, mámenka."

Two months pass. How is it that two months pass in one minute? An army officer is sitting. On the table before the officer is a bottle. On the officer's knees is she, Viérotchka.

Again two months more have passed in one minute.

A lady is sitting. Before the lady she, Viérotchka, is standing.

"Can you iron, dear?"

"I can."

"To what class do you belong? Are you a serf or free?"

"My father was a tchinovnik."[2]

"So you belong to the nobility, my dear? Then I can't take you. What kind of a servant would you make? Go away, my dear; I can't take you."

Viérotchka is on the street.

"Mademoiselle! ho, mademoiselle!" says some young drunken fellow, accosting her. "Where are you going? Let me escort you."

Viérotchka runs to the Neva.

"Well, my dear, have you seen all these things that my magic art has conjured up? How do you like being with your kind mother?" asks the real Marya Alekséyevna, again appearing. Am I not a good enchantress? Hain't I hit it off well? Why don't you speak? You have a tongue in your mouth, hain't you? I'll squeeze a word out of you! It's so hard to make you speak. Have you been shopping?"

"Yes," says Viérotchka; and she trembles.

"Have you seen, have you heard, what's going on?"


"Do they live well, them learned folks? Do they read books, and think as you do about your new plan for folks getting along better? Do they? Tell me!"

Viérotchka says nothing, but she trembles.

"Ek! there ain't nothing to be got out of you. Do they live well? Hear my question!"

Viérotchka says nothing, but she is in a cold sweat.

"One can't git a word out of you! Do they live well? I ask you. Are they good? I ask you. Would you like to be like them? You don't speak! You turn away your phiz! Just listen, Viérotchka, to what I am going to say! You are educated; you are educated on money that I stole. You are thinking about the good; but if I had not been bad, you would not have even known what good is. Do you understand? You owe all to me. You are my daughter. Do you understand? I am your mother!"

Viérotchka weeps and trembles, and is in a cold sweat. "Mámenka, what do you want of me? I cannot love you."

"Do I ask you to love me?"

"I should like at least to respect you; but I cannot do that, either."

"Do I need your respect?"

"What do you want, then, mámenka? Why have you come to me, and why do you speak so harshly to me? What do you want of me?"

"Be grateful, you selfish girl! Do not love, do not respect me? I am a vixen; why should you love me? I am bad; why should you respect me? But you understand, Viérka, that if I were not what I am, you would not be what you are. You are good because I am bad. You are sweet-tempered because I am a vixen. Understand that, Viérka, and be grateful."

"Leave me, Marya Alekséyevna; I want to speak with my sister."

Marya Alekséyevna vanishes.

The bride of her bridegrooms, the sister of her sisters, takes Viérotchka by the hand. "Viérotchka, I always wanted to be kind to you because I am kind and I am just as the person is with whom I speak. But now you are melancholy, so you see I too am melancholy. Look! do I make a good appearance being melancholy?"

"You look better than any one else in the world."

"Kiss me, Viérotchka. We both of us are sad; and yet your mother spoke the truth. I do not like your mother, but I need her help."

"Can't you get along without her?"

"By and by I shall be able to get along without her, when people will not need to be ill-tempered; but now it is impossible. You see, kind people cannot get to their feet alone. It is the ill-tempered who alone are strong. They are keen. But you see, Viérotchka, that there are different degrees of ill-temper: some of them want everything in the world to go to the bad; others, who are just as ill-tempered, want things to improve, because it would be better for their interests. You see it was necessary for your mother's plans to have you educated. She took your money which you got by giving lessons, because she wanted her daughter to capture a rich son-in-law for her; and for that same reason she wanted you to be educated. You see she had bad thoughts, and yet they brought forth good for mankind. Haven't you been benefited? But many bad people act otherwise. If your mother had been Anna Petróvna, would you have studied so as to become educated? Would you have learned what was good, and loved it? No; you would not have been allowed to learn about the good; you would have been made a doll. Isn't it so? Such a mother must have a doll in her daughter, because she herself is a doll, and she is always playing dolls with dolls. But your mother was a bad woman; yet she was a character. It was necessary for her that you should not be a doll. Don't you see how the wicked vary? Others are hindering me, because I want men to be men, and not dolls; they want men to be dolls. And other bad people are helping me. They do not consciously help me, but they give ample chance for men to be men; they gather the means for men to be men, and this is all that I want. Yes, Viérotchka, now I cannot get along without such bad people, since they work against the other kind of bad. My bad people are bad, but under their cruel hands the good is growing. Yes, Viérotchka, be grateful to your mother. Do not love her; she is bad; but you owe everything to her, know that; without her, you would not have been!"

"And will it always be so, or will it change?"

"No, Viérotchka, it will not always be so; it will change by and by. When the kind become strong, I shall not need the ill-tempered; and this will be soon, Viérotchka. Then the bad will see that it is impossible for them to be bad; and those ill-tempered who had any character will become kind. They were ill-tempered only because it was contrary to their interests to be kind; because they know that goodness is better than badness. They will begin to love it when it will be possible for them to love it without injuring their interests."

"And what will become of the bad who were dolls? I feel sorry for them, too!"

They will play with other kinds of dolls, only they will be harmless dolls. But they will have children different from what they themselves are, because I will make all men to be men, and I shall teach their children not to be dolls, but men."

"Akh! how good that will be!"

"Yes, even now it is good, because this good is in preparation; at least, those who, helping to bring it about, are already enjoying it. When you, Viérotchka, help your cook to get your dinner ready, it may be suffocating in the kitchen, but it is good for you. What do you care for the gas and suffocating odors! All enjoy sitting at dinner, but more than all he who helps get it ready; it tastes doubly sweet to him. And you like to eat good things, Viérotchka, don't you?"

"It is true," says Viérotchka; and she smiles because she was caught in liking sweetmeats, and in liking to prepare them in the kitchen.

"Then, why are you melancholy? You are not melancholy any more!"

"How kind you are!"

"And happy, Viérotchka; I am always happy, Viérotchka! Even when I am melancholy, yet I am happy; is not that true?"

"Yes; but when I am melancholy, you also come as though you were melancholy, and you always drive away the blues. I am happy with you, very happy."

"Do you remember the little song, Donc vivons?"

"I do."

"Let us sing it!"

"All right!"

"Viérotchka! Viérotchka, have I waked you up? However, breakfast is ready. I was frightened, I heard you groaning; I came in, and you were singing in your sleep."

"No, my mílenki, you didn't wake me; I should have waked myself. But what a strange dream I had, mílenki; I will tell you at tea. Leave me; I want to get dressed. And how did you dare to come into my room without permission, Dmitri Sergéitch? You forget youself. Were you frightened about me, my mílenki? Come here, and I will kiss you for it!" She kissed him. "Now leave me! leave me! I want to get dressed."

"Oh, let me stay! I'll act as your dressing-maid."

"Nu! I don't object, only how shameful it is."


Viéra Pavlovna's sewing union was established. The foundations were very simple at first,—so simple, indeed, that it is not worth while to speak of them. Viéra Pavlovna did not make any rules at all for her first three seamstresses, except that she would pay them a trifle more than the regular seamstresses were getting at the shops. There was nothing particularly strange about the business; the seamstresses saw that Viéra Pavlovna was not a woman of mere words, not fickle; and therefore, without any hesitation they accepted her offer to work with her. There was no reason for hesitation in the fact that a woman of moderate means wanted to establish a sewing shop. These three girls found three or four more. They selected them with the same care with which Viéra Pavlovna proposed to them, and in these conditions of choice there was nothing worthy of suspicion; that is, there was nothing out of the ordinary run about it. A young and modest woman wishes the working girls in her establishment to be girls of straightforward character, kind, considerate, inclined to stay in one place; is there anything strange about that? She does not want any quarrels, that's all; and therefore it's clever of her, and nothing more. Viéra Pavlovna made acquaintance with these chosen girls; she became very well acquainted with them before she agreed to accept them; that was natural. It shows that she is a woman of sound common sense, and that's all. There is nothing to deliberate about; there is nothing to distrust.

Thus they worked a month, receiving in due time the wages which had been agreed upon. Viéra Pavlovna was constantly at the shop, and they learned to look upon her as an economical, careful, and reasonable woman, with unusual consideration for them, and thus she won their full confidence. The was nothing extraordinary about that either, nor was anything noticeable except that the mistress was a good mistress, in whose hands the business would succeed; she knows how to manage.

But at the end of a month Viéra Pavlovna came into the shop one day with some kind of an account-book; she asked her seamstresses to stop work, and listen to what she had to say.

She began to speak, in very simple language, things which were comprehensible, very comprehensible, but which her seamstresses had never heard before, either from her or from anybody else.

"Now that we know each other well," she began, "I can say of you that you are good workers and good girls. And you will not say that I am a fool. Consequently I can speak with you frankly about my ideas. If you should find anything strange in them, you will think carefully about them, and not insist that my ideas are foolish, because you know that I am not a foolish woman. This is the plan that I propose:—

"Good people say that it is possible to establish sewing shops where seamstresses might work to much greater profit to themselves than in those shops that we know about. And so I wanted to make an experiment. Judging by the first month, it appears that it can be done. You have been receiving your wages regularly, and now I want to tell you how much over and above your wages and all other expenses remain in my hands as clear profit."

Viéra Pavlovna read over to them the debit and credit account for the month. In the expense account were reckoned, besides the wages paid, all other expenses,—the rent of the shop, light, even down to Viéra Pavlovna's charges for an izvoshchik, which she hired in the interests of the shop, and cost about a ruble.

"You see," she continued, "there remains in my hands so much money. Now what am I going to do with it? I have established this sewing shop with the express purpose of letting the profits go to the very seamstresses by whose work it was earned. Therefore, I am going to divide it among you. This first time, all of you will get an equal share; each one of you her own. By and by we can see whether we cannot manage it better, or whether there isn't some other way that will not be still more profitable for you."

She divided the money.

For some time the seamstresses could not believe their senses, so great was their surprise; then they began to pour out their thanks. Viéra Pavlovna gave them sufficient time to express their gratitude for the division of the money, so that she might not hurt their feelings, by refusing to listen, for that would have looked like indifference to their opinions and inclinations; then she continued:—

"Now I must explain to you the hardest question of all; it will be sure to arise, and I do not know as I shall be able to make it plain to you. Yet I must speak about it. Why didn't I keep the money, and what was my design in establishing the shop, if I did not intend to profit from the advantage arising from it? I live with my husband, as you know, and have a sufficiency: we are not rich, but we have all that we need. If I am in need of anything, all I have to do would be to ask my husband for it; and I should not even have to ask him, for he would see that I was in want of more money, and I should have it. He does not spend his time now in doing those things which bring him in most money, but in those things which he likes best. And as we love each other dearly, it pleases him most of all to do those things which I like, and it is the same with me. Therefore, if I should be short of money, he would undertake some business which would be more profitable than his present occupation, and he is able to find such a business, because he is a clever and an able man; but you have some idea of him, and the fact that he does not do so, is proof positive that the money which we both have is enough for us both. This is because I have no great hankering after money, for you know that different people have different desires, and not all care for money; some hanker after balls; some after fine dresses, or cards, and all such people are ready to ruin themselves for the sake of their passion, and a good many do ruin themselves, and no one is surprised that their passion is dearer to them than money. And my hobby happens to be this thing which I am trying to arrange with you, and I not only do not ruin myself for the sake of my hobby, but I do not even spend any money on it; I am only too glad to give up some of my time to it, and do not take any of the profit for myself. Well, now, according to my idea, there is nothing strange about this; for who expects to make any money out of his pet hobby? Everybody else even goes to expense for the sake of gratifying it, but I do not do that; I do not put any money out. Consequently, the advantage lies on my side, compared with others; for I ride my hobby and get pleasure out of it, without any loss to myself; whereas, others have to spend money for their pleasures. And why is it that I have this hobby? This is the reason: Kind and clever people have written many books about the way men should get along in this world; how all should have the chance to enjoy life, and our principal way, they say, consists in starting shops according to a new system. And so I want to see for myself whether we shall be able to start such a system as is needed. It is just the same as when one man wants to build a fine house, another, to plant a splendid garden, or orangery, so as to get pleasure out of them; so do I want to start a fine sewing shop, so that I may have pleasure in it.

"Of course, it would have been satisfactory enough, if I were to divide the profits among you every month, as I have just done; but clever people say that there is still a better way of doing it, so that there should be more profits, and the profits themselves should be used to much better advantage. They say that this can be very easily done. Now, we shall see. I shall tell you, by degrees, what can be done, according to the ideas of clever people; and if you yourselves will take notice, as you look on, and anything which promises well suggests itself to you, we can try to do it, little by little, according to circumstances. But I must confess to you, that without your aid, I cannot take this new step. Nothing new shall be tried without your approval. Clever men say that only what people themselves want to do turns out well. And I think so, too. Consequently, you need not fear any new departures; for everything will go on in the old way, unless you yourselves want to make a change. Without your own wish, nothing can be done.

"And now, this is my last order, as mistress of the shop, without your advice. You see that accounts must be kept, and care must be taken that there are no unnecessary expenses. Last month I managed the business myself, but henceforth, I do not want to take charge of it. Select two of your number to act in concert with me. I will not do anything without them. It is your money, and not mine; therefore, you must look after it. As yet, the thing is an experiment. It has not yet been shown who among you is most capable of managing it; so, for the time being, those who are selected must serve for only a short term, and in a week you will find out whether it will be necessary to select others, or leave the former in their places."

Long discussions were awakened by these unusual words. But Viéra Pavlovna had already gained their confidence, and she spoke so simply, not going too far in advance, not conjuring up any extraordinary prospects, which, after a moment's enthusiasm, would fade away into distrust, that the girls did not look upon her as a lunatic, and that was all that was required,—that she should not be regarded as a lunatic. The experiment progressed slowly.

Of course it progressed slowly. Here is a short history of the shop for the first three years, during which it played the principal part in the life of Viéra Pavlovna herself.

The girls who at first made up the personelle of the new shop were carefully selected; they were good seamstresses; they were directly interested in the success of the scheme; therefore, it was natural that the work went on successfully. The shop never lost any of its customers who once entrusted it with orders. There was some envy manifested on the part of several shops and factories, but it did not produce the least effect except to oblige Viéra Pavlovna to take out a license to display a sign, so that there might not be any chicanery. Soon more orders began to come in than the girls who at first made up the union were able to fill, and thus they were obliged gradually to increase their numbers. At the end of a year and a half there were twenty girls in the union, and after that still more.

One of the first results of giving a decisive voice to the entire shop in the management of its business was a decision which might have been expected: in the very first month of their regime the girls decided that it would not do for Viéra Pavlovna to work without pay. When they announced this decision to her, she said that they were right. They wanted to give her the third part of the profits; she laid it aside for some time before she ventured to explain to them that it was diametrically opposed to the fundamental idea of their scheme. For some time they could not understand this; then afterwards they came to the conclusion that Viéra Pavlovna refused a special share of the profits, not from self-conceit, but from the nature of the experiment itself. By this time the shop had expanded to such dimensions that Viéra Pavlovna by herself was not able to attend to all the cutting, and so she had to get an assistant. They gave Viéra Pavlovna the same wages as the other cutter. The money which she had been laying aside was now, by her request, taken back into the common fund, with the exception of what was due her for her work as cutter; the balance was employed in the establishment of a bank. For about a year Viéra Pavlovna spent the larger part of each day at the shop, and really worked as hard as any one else, according to the schedule of hours. When she saw the possibility of spending less time in the shop than a whole day, her wages were reduced in proportion.

How should the profits be divided? Viéra Pavlovna wanted to bring it about that the profits should be divided equally among them all. They consented to this only towards the middle of the third year; before that time they tried several different schemes. At first they divided the profits proportionally according to the wages earned by each; then they came to the conclusion that if a girl missed work for a few days on account of illness or any other important reason, it would not be fair to reduce her share of the division money, which, properly speaking, had not been gained during those few days, but by the general course of the work and the general state of the shop. Then they went a step further, and agreed that the cutters and other girls who received extra wages, by delivering orders and other duties, were already sufficiently paid by their extra wages, and that therefore it would be unfair for them to get proportionally more than the others also in their share of the profits. The ordinary seamstresses who had no extra duties were so modest that they did not ask for any charge, although they saw the injustice of the other arrangement, which was due to their own vote; the others who had this extra compensation felt the awkwardness of availing themselves of the extra division, and when they once came into the spirit of the scheme, they entirely refused it. It is necessary, however, to remark that this temporary modesty, the patience of the ones and the refusal of the others, was not a remarkable step, taking into the consideration the constant improvement in the affairs of both sides. The most difficult task of all was to develop the idea that the ordinary seamstresses were all entitled to an equal share in the profits, notwithstanding the fact that some of them were earning more wages than others; that seamstresses who were working more successfully than others were already sufficiently compensated for the success of their work by getting better wages. The last change in the way of dividing the profits was accomplished in the middle of the third year after the shop girls understood that the receiving of the profits was not the reward for the art of one or two of their number, but the result of the general character of the shop, the result of its arrangement, its aim,—and this aim meant equality, so far as was possible, in the profits, for all participating in the work without regard to their personal peculiarities, that upon this character of the union depended the participation of the workers in the profits; but the character of the union, its spirit, its arrangement, consisted in the participation of all; and for this participation of all every member was a necessary factor. The silent acquiescence of the most hesitating and of the least gifted is no less beneficial for the preservation and development of the scheme, no less profitable for all of them, and for the success of the whole enterprise, than the active zeal of the most lively and gifted.

I omit a good many details because I am not describing the workshop, but I simply enter into it with sufficient fulness to illustrate Viéra Pavlovna's activity. If I mention some details, it is only because I wanted to show how Viéra Pavlovna acted; how she conducted the business step by step, patiently and tirelessly, and how firmly she kept up to her rule not to show her hand as mistress, but to explain, to advise, to plan, to offer her assistance, to bring to a successful issue the decision of her co-operatives.

The profits were divided every month; at first each girl took her share and spent it separately apart from the others; each one had immediate necessities, and they were not in the habit of acting together. But when after constantly participating in the business, they had acquired the habit of understanding the entire procedure of the work in the shop, Viéra Pavlovna turned their attention to the fact that in their business the quantity of orders varied in different months of the year, and that therefore it would be advisable, during the most profitable months, to put away a portion of their profits against those months when the profits were not so great. The accounts were kept with great accuracy; the girls knew that if any one of them left the shop, she would get without any difficulty her share of the earnings remaining in the depository; therefore they consented to accede to this plan. A small reserve capital was established; it gradually grew; they began to look for various ways of applying it. From the very first, all understood that this reserve capital could be drawn upon in the way of loans by those members who had any extraordinary need of money, and that no interest would be charged for its use. Poor people have the idea that respectable help in money ought to be given without interest. After this bank was established, there followed a commission house for purchases; the girls found it more profitable to buy tea, coffee, sugar, foot wear, and many other things through this shop, as it bought goods not at retail but at wholesale, consequently cheaper. From this in a short time they branched out still further; they began to understand that it might also be possible to arrange for the purchase of the bread and provisions which they used to buy every day from the bakers and retail shops. But here they saw that to do this they must live in one neighborhood; they began to gather into circles, each circle occupying one suite, and they tried to get quarters near the shop; then the shop had to establish its agency to transact business with the bakeries and the stores. In a year and a half or so, almost all the girls were living in one large apartment, had one general table, and purchased their provisions in exactly the same way as is done in great establishments.

Half of the girls were lonely souls. Some of them had old women as relatives, mothers, or aunts; two supported aged fathers, and a good many had little brothers and sisters. On account of these family relationships three of the girls could not live in the general apartment: one of them had a mother whom it was impossible to get along with; the second had a mother who was a tchinóvnitsa, and did not want to live with peasant girls; the third had a drunken father. These only made use of the agency just the same as those seamstresses did who were not girls, but married women. But, apart from these three, all the other girls who had relatives to support lived in the general apartment. They lived by themselves in one suite, two or three in one room; but their male or female relatives were given rooms according to circumstances. Two old ones had separate rooms; all the other old women lived together. For the little boys there was a separate room, and two others for the little girls. It was decided that the little boys could stay until they were eight years old; those above that age would be put out to learn a trade.

There was an accurate account kept of everything, in order that the whole association might get used to the idea that no one was getting any advantage over anybody else, that they were not doing each other any harm. The accounts of the single girls in the apartment for rooms and board were very simple. After some hesitation, they decided to charge for a brother or sister, under eight years of age, the fourth part of the expenses of a grown-up girl, and that then the support of a girl until she was twelve was to be reckoned at one-third; after she was twelve, the price should be one-half of that of her sister. When the little girls should reach the age of thirteen, they should enter the shop as apprentices, if they did not succeed in establishing themselves otherwise; and it was decided that from sixteen and upwards they should enter as full members of the union, provided they were found to be skilful seamstresses. For the support of the grown-up relatives, as much, of course, was charged as for that of the seamstresses: for separate rooms there was an extra charge. Almost all the old women, and the three old men, who lived in the union apartment, busied themselves in the kitchen and in other domestic duties, and for this, of course, they were paid.

All this can be told very quickly in words, and in reality it seemed very easy, simple, and natural, when it was once accomplished. But everything was done very deliberately, and every new step cost a great many arguments, and every change was the result of a whole series of experiments. It would be very tedious and dry to describe the other details of the shop as particularly as we have told about the division of the profits. In regard to many points it is not necessary to speak at all, lest we should weary the reader; but we must briefly mention one or two other things. For instance, that the union had its agency for selling ready-made clothing, which was made at the time when they were not busy with orders. A separate store they could not as yet accomplish; but they made arrangements with one of the shops in the Gostinui Dvor. They established a little shop in the Pushing Market; two of the old women took charge of this little shop. But it is necessary to speak with a little more fulness about one side of the life of the union.

Viéra Pavlovna, from the very first, began to bring them books. After she had given her directions she began to read aloud. She would read half an hour, or an hour, if she were not interrupted by the necessity of giving out new work. Then the girls took a rest from listening; then followed some more reading, and another rest. It is hardly worth mentioning that the girls, from the very first, became interested in the reading; some of them had been fond of it even before. In two or three weeks, the reading during the working hours took the form of a regular course. In three or four months, two or three good readers were found, who were delegated to relieve Viéra Pavlovna, to read half an hour; and this half-hour was reckoned as regular work. When the duty of reading aloud was taken from Viéra Pavlovna, Viéra Pavlovna, who even before used to vary the monotony of reading by telling stories, began to speak oftener and more at length; then her stories turned into a channel resembling elementary courses in various branches of knowledge. Afterwards—and this was a very great step—Viéra Pavlovna saw the possibility of introducing a regular course of instruction. The girls became so ambitious to learn, and their work went on so successfully, that they decided to take, during their working day before dinner, a long rest for hearing the lessons.

"Alekséi Petróvitch," said Viéra Petróvitch once, while she was at the Mertsálofs, "I have a favor that I want to ask of you. Natasha is already on my side. My sewing union is becoming a lyceum for all possible knowledge. Be one of its professors."

"Well, what shall I teach? Latin or Greek or logic or rhetoric?" said Alekséi Petróvitch, laughing. "My specialty would not be very interesting, according to your opinion, and the opinion of another man whom you know."

"Yes, you aie needed, just because you are a specialist. You must serve as the buckler of morality and the special direction of our science."

"That's true. I see that without me there would be no morality. Give me a professorship."

"For instance, Russian history or international history."

"Capital! But I will read this subject up, and I shall be taken as a specialist. Excellent! Two occupations,—to be a professor and a buckler."

Natalia Andréyevna, Lopukhóf, two or three students, and Viéra Pavlovna herself were the other professors, as they called themselves in jest.

Together with the course of instructions, they also arranged for amusements. They had evening parties; they had picnics out of town,—at first rarely, but afterwards, when they had more money, more frequently; they took boxes at the theatre. During the third winter they took ten places in the parquet circle during the Italian opera.

How delightful, how exciting this was to Viéra Pavlovna! there was much labor and care, and she also had disappointments. The misfortune that befell one of the best girls in the union powerfully affected not her alone, but the whole shop. Sáshenka Pribuitkova, one of the three girls whom Viéra Pavlovna herself found, was very handsome, and was very modest. She was engaged to a good and kind young man, who was a tchinovnik. Once, as she was walking on the street rather late, some gentleman accosted her. She hastened her steps. He followed her, and caught her by the arm. She snatched herself away from him and started to run; but by the motion of pulling away her arm, she hit his chest, and on the pavement was heard the ring of the polite gentleman's watch. The polite gentleman caught Sáshenka with perfect self-possession, and with a feeling of legal right, and cried out, "Robbery! police!" Two policemen came and took Sáshenka to the station-house. Meantime, nothing was known in the shop as to what had become of her, and they could not imagine where she could be lost. On the fourth day a kind soldier, attached to the station-house, brought Viéra Pavlovna a note from Sáshenka. Lopukhóf immediately went off to see about it. He was treated insultingly; he gave them back in their own coin, and went off to Serge. Serge and Julie had gone out of town to a great picnic, and did not come back for two days. Two hours after his return, one of the officials begged Sáshenka's pardon, and went to beg her bridegroom's pardon into the bargain. But he could not find the young man. The bridegroom had been to see Sáshenka the evening before at the station, and having learned from the policemen who were placed in charge of her the name of the dandy (frant), went to him, and challenged him to a duel. Before he was challenged, the dandy apologized for his mistake in a very insulting tone; but after he had received the challenge, he burst into a peal of laughter. The tchinovnik said, "Here, then, you will not refuse this challenge," and slapped him in the face; the dandy seized a stick; the tchinovnik hit him in the chest; the dandy fell to the ground, and his servants hurried to the noise. The barin was picked up dead; he had been knocked violently to the floor, and struck his cheek on the sharp corner of a table. The tchinovnik was put in prison, a criminal suit was instituted, and no end could be foreseen to this case. What was the result? There was no result; only, from that time, it was sad to look at Sáshenka. The shop had several other experiences; not criminal like this, but likewise not very gay. Very ordinary occurrences, such as cause girls long tears, and young or middle-aged men not long but pleasant recreation. Viéra Pavlovna knew that, according to the existing ideas and conditions, such occurrences were unavoidable; that young girls could not be kept in perfect safety, either by their own care or by that exercised by others. It is just the same way as it used to be in old times, in regard to small-pox, before people learned to get rid of it. Now, whoever suffers from small-pox, is himself to blame, and much more, those near to him; but once it was otherwise: no one was to blame except the miserable weather or the wretched town or village; for the person suffering from small-pox probably carried the contagion by not putting himself into quarantine, until he got well. The same thing is true now of these stories. Some time in the future people may get rid of this kind of small-pox also. Means have been found for it; but people are not yet ready to adopt it, just as it took a long time, a very long time, for people to be willing to adopt preventatives against the small-pox. Viéra Pavlovna knew that this miserable weather was to be found mainly in cities and towns, and it gets victims even from the most careful hands: but this is a very poor consolation, when you know only that "I am not to blame, my dear, for your sorrow; nor are you to blame, yourself." Nevertheless, every one of these ordinary occurrences caused Viéra Pavlovna much grief, and still more labor. Sometimes it was necessary to look up the girls in order to help them; but more frequently there was no need of hunting; it was only necessary to help, to pacify, to restore courage, to bring back self-respect, to reason, to bid them cease weeping,—"If you stop doing so, you will not need to weep."

But her happiness was much more, oh, much more! Everything was happiness, except these sorrows; and these sorrows were only exceptional and rare occurrences. To-day or a half-year you may be sorry for one; but at the same time you are glad for all others; and when two or three weeks have passed, you may be glad for this one too. Bright and gay was the ordinary course of the business, and it filled Viéra Pavlovna's heart with constant happiness. And if sometimes things went hard owing to these griefs, yet exceptionally happy circumstances compensated for them; and these arose oftener than her griefs; for instance, they succeeded in establishing the young sisters or brothers of one or another of the girls; on the third year two girls passed their examinations as private teachers. What a happiness that was to them! There were several good things of this sort. But more often the cause of happiness for the whole shop, and for Viéra Pavlovna, was a marriage. There were a good many, and all were fortunate. The marriage passed off very gayly; there were evening parties before and after it, a good many surprises to the bride from her friends in the shop, and a dowry was given her from the reserve fund; and, then, again how much work Viéra Pavlovna had; she had her hands full, of course. One thing at first seemed to the shop indelicate on the part of Viéra Pavlovna: the first bride asked Viéra Pavlovna to be her nuptial god-mother, but her request was not granted; the second did likewise, and was also refused. More often the bridal nuptial god-mother was Mrs. Mertsálova or her mother, who was also a very nice lady; but Viéra Pavlovna always refused; she would help dress the bride, and escort her to the church, but only in the capacity of one of her friends. The first time they thought that the refusal was out of displeasure for something or other; but that was not so; Viéra Pavlovna was very glad of the invitation, only she did not accept it; the second time it was believed that it was from mere modesty; Viéra Pavlovna did not want to appear in public as the patroness of the bride. And, indeed, it was true that she avoided all appearances of being influential. She always took pains to bring others to the front, so that a good many of the ladies, who came to the shop to give order, could not distinguish her from the other cutters. But Viéra Pavlovna took the greatest delight when she was explaining to any one that the whole establishment was founded and supported by the girls themselves. With these explanations she tried to convince herself of what she wanted to believe,—that the shop could get along without her, so that, in time, other shops might be established of the same kind, entirely spontaneously; and why not? wouldn't it be a good thing? It would be better than anything else; even without any leadership, outside of the rank of seamstresses, but by the thought and planning of the seamstresses themselves. This was Viéra Pavlovna's pet dream.


And thus three years have passed since the union was founded, and more than three years since Viéra Pavlovna's marriage. How quietly and busily passed these three years, how full they were of calmness, happiness, and all that was good!

Viéra Pavlovna after waking, long takes her ease in bed; she likes to take her ease, and as it were, to doze; and yet she does not doze, but she thinks of what must needs be done; and so she lies, not dozing and not thinking; yes, she is thinking, "How warm, soft, good, how comfortable it is to sleep in the morning"; and so she lies and takes her ease, until from the neutral room—no, we must say from one of the neutral rooms; there are two of them now, because it is the fourth year of their wedded life—her husband, that is her mílenki, says, "Viérotchka, are you awake?"

"Yes, mílenki."

That is as good as to say that her husband may begin to make the tea (in the morning it is his work to make the tea), and that Viéra Pavlovna—no, in her room, she is not Viéra Pavlovna, but Viérotchka—may dress herself. How long it takes to dress herself! No, it does not take her long,—one minute; but she plays long with the water; she likes to splash in it, and then she takes considerable time with her hair. No, she does not take very much time for it; she arranges it in a minute; but she trifles with it, because she likes her hair; however, sometimes she is long busy with one of the important stages of her toilet, putting on her shoes; she wears elegant shoes; she dresses very simply, but shoes are her passion.

And here she comes out to tea, kisses her husband. "How did you sleep, mílenki?" She talks with him at table about different trifles and serious things; however, Viéra Pavlovna—no, Viérotchka, because at morning tea she is still Viérotchka—drinks not as much tea as cream; tea is only pretext for cream, she has more than half a cup of it; cream is also her passion. It is hard to find good cream in Petersburg, but Viérotchka manages to find the best that there is, without any adulteration. She dreams of having her own cow; well, if business improves as it has been doing, it can be realized in a year's time. But now it is ten o'clock. "Mílenki" goes off to give his lessons or to business; he is employed in the office of a manufacturer. Viéra Pavlovna—now she is Viéra Pavlovna again, until the next morning—looks after the house; she has one servant, a young girl whom she has to teach everything, and after you have taught her, it is necessary to break in a new one. Viéra Pavlovna does not keep her servants long; they all get married! Within a half-year or a little more, you will see Viéra Pavlovna working on a collar or a pair of cuffs, preparing herself to be the bride's nuptial godmother; here it is impossible to refuse. "How is it possible to do otherwise, Viéra Pavlovna? you have made all the arrangements yourself, there is no one besides you." Yes, there is a great deal of care about the house. Then it is necessary to go and give her lessons; she has a good many pupils, about ten hours a week; more would be too hard, and she would not have any time. Before the lessons it is necessary to stop in the shop for a little while, and on her way home she has to look in once more. And then comes dinner with the mílenki. At dinner they almost always have company; one, more often two. More than two is impossible; when they have two to dinner, it is necessary to do extra work, to prepare a new dish so as to have enough. If Viéra Pavlovna feels tired when she gets home, dinner is made more simple. She sits till dinner time in her own room, resting, and the dinner is put on as it was begun, without her help. But if she is not tired, affairs in the kitchen begin to boil and steam, and extra dishes appear at dinner, some baked dish, but more often something that can be eaten with cream; that is, something that will serve as an excuse for cream.

At dinner Viéra Pavlovna asks questions and tells about things; more often she tells stories. And how can she help telling them? How much news she has to tell about the shop! After dinner she sits a quarter of an hour longer with the mílenki. Then comes dō svedánya (good by), and they each go to their own room; and Viéra Pavlovna lies down on her little bed, and takes her ease and reads, and very often she falls asleep, more often than not. Every other day she takes a nap for an hour or an hour and a half; this is a weakness, and it is a weakness of a low character. But Viéra Pavlovna sleeps after dinner when she can get a nap; and she likes to go to sleep, and she feels neither shame nor regret for this low-toned weakness. She then gets up, after sleeping or lounging for an hour or two, dresses, and goes again to the shop, and remains there till tea-time. If they do not have company in the evening, then at tea she has another talk with the mílenki, and for half an hour they sit in the neutral room; then it is, "Dō svedánya, mílenki"; they kiss each other, and part till breakfast. Now Viéra Pavlovna sometimes works or reads, or rests from reading by playing on the piano, till very late, even till two o'clock. She has a grand piano in her room; the grand was bought not long ago; hitherto their piano was rented. This also was a great happiness, to own their own grand; it was cheaper, too. It was bought at a bargain, for a hundred rubles,—a small Erarovski, second hand; it cost seventy rubles to have it put in order; but the grand was of an excellent tone. Sometimes the mílenki comes to hear her sing; but only seldom: he is too busy. Thus goes the evening: work, reading, playing, singing; but reading and singing most of all. This is when they do not have company. But very often they have visitors, generally young people, younger than the "mílenki," and younger than Viéra Pavlovna herself; their number includes the instructors of the shop. They esteem Lopukhóf very highly; they consider him one of the best minds in Petersburg, and perhaps they are not mistaken. And their tie to the Lopukhófs consists in this: they feel that it is profitable for them to talk with Dmitri Sergéitch. To Viéra Pavlovna they show immense respect; she even allows them to kiss her hand, not feeling that it is any degradation to herself, and she behaves towards them as though she were fifteen years their senior; that is, she behaves herself in such a way when she does not get into a gale; but, to tell the truth, she very often gets into a gale. She likes to run, to frolic with them, and they are all delighted, and there is a great deal of dancing and waltzing, a great deal of simple running about, a great deal of playing on the piano, a great deal of talking and laughter, and probably more singing than anything else. But the running, laughter, and everything else does not in the least prevent the young people from absolutely and entirely and boundlessly worshipping Viéra Pavlovna, from respecting her—as may God grant respect for an older sister!—as a mother, not even a good mother, is not always respected. However, singing is not frolicking, though sometimes one cannot get along without the nonsense. But for the most part, Viéra Pavlovna slugs seriously; and sometimes, when she does not sing, she plays seriously, and her hearers then sit in dumb silence. Not infrequently they have guests who are older, or who are of the same age as the Lopukhófs; for the most part, Lopukhóf's former classmates, or friends of his former comrades, two or three young professors, almost all bachelors; almost the only married people are the Mertsálofs. The Lopukhófs do not very often go out, and they go scarcely anywhere else than to the Mertsálofs', or to Mrs. Mertsálova's parents'; these kind and simple-hearted people have a good many sons, who occupy important places in all possible official departments; and therefore at the house of the old people, who live in some comfort, Viéra Pavlovna sees a varied and different calibered society.

Free, ample, active life, not without its luxuries; lying at ease in her soft, warm bed; cream, or baked dishes and cream; it is a life that greatly delights Viéra Pavlovna.

Can there be any better life in the world? To Viéra Pavlovna it seems impossible.

Well (da), in early youth nothing better can be imagined.

But years pass on; and with the years, things improve, if life goes on as it should, as it goes on with a few now, as it will pass with a good many in the future.


Once (it was towards the end of summer) the girls gathered, according to their custom on Sunday, at the outskirts of the city for a picnic. During the summer they used to go out almost every holiday in boats to the islands. Viéra Pavlovna generally went with them, and this time Dmitri Sergéitch went along too, and that made this picnic remarkable. His company was a rarity, and it was the second time that he had been with them. The shop, when they heard about it, was greatly pleased. "Viéra Pavlovna will be gayer than usual, and it may be expected that the picnic will be particularly hilarious." Some of them, who had intended to spend their Sunday otherwise, changed their plans and joined those who had decided to go. It was necessary to take instead of four great hampers, five, and afterwards the number was increased to six. The company consisted of fifty people or more. There were more than twenty seamstresses (there were only six who did not take part in the picnic), three middle-aged women, a dozen children or so,—mothers, sisters, and brothers of the seamstresses; three young men—bridegrooms (one was a watchmaker's apprentice, the second was a small dealer, and these two were not in the least inferior in manners to the third, who was a school-teacher); there were five other young men of different ranks, among them even two army officers; and there were eight university and medical students. They took with them four big samovars, great heaps of different baked things, huge reserve stores of cold veal and other eatables. The people are young, there will be much motion, and the fresh air besides; one can count on their appetites. There are half a dozen bottles of wine. For fifty people, including fifteen young men, it does not seem a great supply!

And, in point of fact, the picnic turned out better than was even expected. They had everything. They danced in sixteen couples, and then in twelve, and also in eighteen; and in one quadrille they had even twenty out at once. They played high spy, about twenty-two couples of them; they improvised three swings between the trees; and in the intervals they drank tea and partook of luncheon. For half an hour—no, less, much less—almost half the company listened to a discussion between Dmitri Sergéitch and two students, the most radical of all his younger friends. They found in each other's arguments inconsequentiality, moderantism, and bourgeoisism.[3] These were the terms that they applied to each other; but in private each one had a special sin. One student, romanticism, and Dmitri Sergéitch was a schematist, and the other student believed in rigorism. Of course a stranger would find it hard to keep up his interest in such a discussion longer than five minutes; even one of the disputants, the romanticist, could not hold out longer than an hour and a half, then ran off to those who were dancing; but he did not run off ingloriously. He was indignant at some moderantist or other (almost with me, though I was not there at all), and, knowing that the cause of his indignation was not very old, he cried out, "Why are you talking about him? I will tell you the words which were said to me a few days ago by a respectable person—a very witty woman, 'Only till a man is twenty-five may he preserve intact the style of his thoughts.'" "I know who that lady is," said an officer who, to the romanticist's mortification, joined the disputants, "It was Mrs. N. She said it in my presence, and she is really an elegant woman; but she was caught on the spot. Half an hour before she had said that she was twenty-six years old, and do you remember how we all roared?"

And at this all four laughed, and the romanticist beat a retreat, laughing. But the officer took his place in the dispute, and the fun was much more lively than before until it was tea-time. The officer, while showing up the rigorist and the schematist much more cruelly than the romanticist had done, was himself mournfully convicted of Auguste Comteism. After tea, the officer announced that as long as his age still allowed his style of thought to be intact, he would not refrain from joining other people of his age. Then Dmitri Sergéitch and, though it was much against his will, the rigorist followed his example. They did not dance in the dances, but they played high spy. And when the men decided to run races, to jump over the ditch, then the three thinkers distinguished themselves as the most agile champions of manly exercise. The officer received the first prize for jumping over the ditch. Dmitri Sergéitch, who was a very strong man, got into a great rage when the officer defeated him. He hoped to be first in this contest after the rigorist, who had easily lifted in the air and set down again both Dmitri Sergéitch and the officer together; for this feat aroused no ambition either in the officer or Dmitri Sergéitch. The rigorist was a recognized athlete, but Dmitri Sergéitch did not care to endure the affront of not being able to defeat the officer. Half a dozen times they grasped each other, and each time the officer floored him though not without difficulty. After the sixth wrestling bout, Dmitri Sergéitch owned himself undoubtedly the weaker of the two. They were both exhausted. The three thinkers threw themselves on the grass. They continued the dispute, and now Dmitri Sergéitch recognized the value of Auguste Comteism and the officer of schematism, but the rigorist remained as before, a rigorist.

They went home at eleven o'clock. The old women and children fell asleep in the boats (it was a good thing that they had plenty of warm wraps with them); but all the rest talked without ceasing and in all the six boats there was no interruption to the jokes and laughter.


Two days later at morning tea, Viéra Pavlovna remarked to her husband that she did not like the color of his face. He said that he had not slept well the night before and that he had not felt well since evening, but it was of no consequence. He had caught a little cold at the picnic; of course during the time when he had been lying on the ground after their running and wrestling. He gave himself a little scolding for his carelessness, but he assured Viéra Pavlovna that it was a mere nothing, and he went to his business as usual; and at supper he said that apparently his ill turn had entirely passed, but on the following morning he said that he would have to stay at home for some time. Viéra Pavlovna, who had been greatly worried since the day before, became seriously frightened now and insisted on Dmitri Sergéitch calling a doctor.

"But I myself am a doctor, and can heal myself, if it is necessary; but, as yet, there is no need of doing anything," said Dmitri Sergéitch, trying to smooth it off. But Viéra Pavlovna was inflexible, and so he wrote a note to Kirsánof, adding that his illness was trifling, and that he asked him to call, simply to please his wife.

Therefore, Kirsánof did not make haste; he stayed at the hospital till dinner time, and called at the Lopukhófs at six o'clock in the evening.

"Well, Aleksandr, I did well to call you," said Lopukhóf; "there is no danger, and I don't think that there is going to be any; but I have inflammation of the lungs. Of course I could have cured myself without your aid, but for all that, please take my case in hand. It cannot be helped; it is necessary to satisfy my conscience; you see, I am not a bachelor, as you are."

They made a long examination of the lung; Kirsánof sounded his chest, and they both agreed that Lopukhóf was not mistaken; there was no danger, and, in all probability, there would be none. But the inflammation of the lung was severe. It would be necessary for him to stay in the house for ten days, Lopukhóf for some time having neglected his illness, but yet it could be cured.

Kirsánof had to have a long talk with Viéra Pavlovna, to quiet her alarm. Finally she was convinced that they were not deceiving her; that, in all probability, the illness was not only not serious, but not even difficult; but this was only "in all probability"; but are there not contingencies which arise contrary to all probability?

Kirsánof began to call twice a day on the sick man; they both saw that the illness was without complications, and not dangerous. On the fourth morning, Kirsánof said to Viéra Pavlovna:—

"Dmitri is all right; everything is going well with him; for three or four days more it may be hard, but it will not be more severe than it is to-day, and then he will begin to gain. But I want to talk seriously about you yourself, Viéra Pavlovna. You do not act wisely, in sitting up all night; he does not need a nurse; he does not even need me. But you may harm yourself, all for nothing. Your nerves are already very much unstrung."

For a long time he tried to reason with Viéra Pavlovna, but without avail. "I know it's nothing," and, "There's no reason in it," and "I should be glad to, but I cannot,"—that is, glad to sleep in the night-time, and leave her husband without a watcher. Finally she said: "All that you are telling me now, he has already told me many times, as you know well. Of course, I would have listened to him sooner than to you; consequently, I can't."

Against such an argument there is no disputing. Kirsánof shook his head and went away.

He came to see the sick man at ten o'clock, that evening, and sat by his bedside, together with Viéra Pavlovna, for half an hour, and then he said: "Now, Viéra Pavlovna, go and get some rest. We both ask you to. I am going to stay here to-night."

Viéra Pavlovna hesitated; she herself knew, or more than half knew, that it was not necessary to sit all night beside the sick man, and here she is compelling Kirsánof, who is a busy man, to waste his time. And what was it in reality? "It apparently is not necessary"; apparently, but who knows? No; it is impossible to leave the mílenki alone! Who knows what might happen? He may want a drink, he may want tea; he is so delicate, he will not wake up; consequently, it is impossible not to sit by his side. But it is not necessary for Kirsánof; she will not allow it. She said that she would not go away, for she was not very tired; that she was taking a great deal of rest in the daytime:—

"Under the present circumstances, I beg of you to leave us entirely to ourselves." Kirsánof took her hand and led her from the room, almost by main force.

"I am really ashamed of her, Aleksandr," said the sick man; "what a ridiculous part you are playing, to sit up all night with a man who is not sick enough to need it. But I am very grateful to you. I could not even persuade her to hire a nurse, when she was afraid to leave me alone; she would not trust me in anybody's hands."

"If I had not seen that it was impossible for her to be calm when you were in somebody else's care, then, of course, I should not have disturbed my comfort. But now, I hope that she will get some sleep. I am a doctor, and I am your friend."

In fact, Viéra Pavlovna, as soon as she touched her bed, fell sound asleep. Three sleepless nights in themselves would not have been so trying, and the worriment by itself would not have been so trying, but the worriment, together with the sleepless nights, without any rest in the daytime, was very dangerous; two or three days and nights more without sleep, and she would have been more seriously ill than her husband.

Kirsánof spent three nights more with the sick man, for it did not tire him much, because he slept very peacefully; only out of carefulness he locked the door, so that Viéra Pavlovna should not see his unconcern. She suspected that he slept instead of watching; she was calm, however, because he was a doctor, and there were no grounds for fear, were there? He himself knows whether he ought to sleep or not. She was ashamed that she could not have been calm before, so as not to have disturbed him; but now he paid no attention to her assurances, that she would sleep even though he were not there.

"You are to blame, Viéra Pavlovna, and, therefore, you must be punished; I do not trust you!"

But, in four days, it was perfectly obvious to her that the sick man was no longer sick; the proofs even to her skepticism were very clear; that very evening they were playing cards; Lopukhóf was half lying down, or was not even lying down at all, and he spoke in a very clear voice. Kirsánof could stop his somnolent watching, and announced that fact.

"Aleksandr Matvéitch, why have you entirely forgotten me,—I mean me? You are always on good terms with Dmitri; he calls on you very often; but you have not called on us till this sickness—it seems to me for a half a year, it's such a long time! and, don't you remember, we used to be very good friends?"

"People change, Viéra Pavlovna. Then, again, I am working very hard, if I may say a word for myself. I call on scarcely anybody; I have no time; besides, I am lazy. You get so tired, being at the hospital and the medical school from nine o'clock till five, that you don't feel it possible to go anywhere else, or make any change, except from your uniform into your smoking-jacket. Friendship is a good thing; but don't get angry, if I say that a cigar on a sofa, in a smoking-jacket, is better still!"

And, in fact, Kirsánof had not called on the Lopukhófs for more than two years. The reader has not once noticed his name among the common guests, and among the frequent callers for a long time; he was the most infrequent of all.


The sapient reader—I explain myself only to the masculine reader; my lady reader has too much understanding to be bothered with guessing, and therefore I do not explain to her; I say this once and for all. There are also among my masculine readers not a few who are not stupid, and to this class of readers also, I do not need to make any explanation; but the majority of readers—and this number includes almost all literary men, and those who claim to be literary men—are sapient, and it is always agreeable for me to talk with such; and so the sapient reader says: "I understand how the affair is going to turn. A new romance is going to begin in Viéra Pavlovna's life, and in this Kirsánof is going to play a part. I understand even more; Kirsánof fell in love with Viéra Pavlovna long ago, and that was the reason why he ceased to call on the Lopukhófs." Oh, what penetration you have, my sapient readers! As soon as you are told anything, then you say, "I thought so," and you plume yourself on your shrewdness. I bow before you, sapient reader!

And thus in Viéra Pavlovna's life appears a new person, and it would be necessary to describe him, if he had not already been described. When I spoke about Lopukhóf, I had some difficulty in distinguishing between him and his intimate friend, and there was scarcely anything more that I could have said about him that I should not have to repeat about Kirsánof. And, in fact, everything that the (sapient) reader can learn from the following description of Kirsánof's characteristics, will be a repetition of Lopukhóf's characteristics. Lopukhóf was the son of a meshchánin, who was well to do for a man of his rank,—that is, one who very often has meat in his shchi; Kirsánof was the son of a clerk in a provincial court,—that is, a man who often has no meat in his shchi; or, in other words, not very often has meat in his shchi. Lopukhóf, in very early youth, almost from childhood, earned money for his own support; Kirsánof, after he reached the age of twelve, helped his father copy papers, and he gave lessons while he was still in the fourth class in the gymnasium. They both, by their own exertion, without connections, without acquaintances, made their own way. What sort of a man was Lopukhóf? In the gymnasium he did not succeed in learning French, and he did not go further in German than the declension of der, die, das, with few mistakes; but after he entered the medical school, Lopukhóf soon saw that he could not make great progress in science with the Russian language alone; he took a French dictionary and such French books as happened to be at hand, and those that fell into his hands were: "Télémaque" and the stories of Madame Genlis, and several livraisons of our clever journal Revue Etrangère. They were not very attractive books, but he took them; and though he was an eager reader, he said, "I shall not open a Russian book until I am able to read French fluently." And thus he learned French fluently. But he acted differently in regard to German: he rented a room in a house where there were a good many German laborers; it was a wretched hole; the Germans were tiresome; it was a long walk to the medical school, but he lived there until he had accomplished what he needed.

Kirsánof did in a different way: he learned the German through different books, with a lexicon, just as Lopukhóf learned French, but French he acquired in a peculiar fashion—through one book without a lexicon. It was the Gospels,—a very familiar book; and he took the New Testament, in the translation of Geneva; then he read it over eight times; the ninth time he understood it thoroughly; and so he mastered it. What kind of a man was Lopukhóf? This was what he was. One time he was walking in a shabby uniform on the Kammenoi-Ostrof Prospekt, on his way from his lesson, for which he got fifty kopeks (thirty cents) an hour, though he had to go a distance of three versts from the lyceum. A distinguished somebody, of imposing mien, met him, motions him out of the way in the manner of men of imposing mien, and bears straight down upon him without giving way. But Lopukhóf, at that time, had a rule, not to be the first to turn out for anybody except a woman. They bumped against each other with their shoulders, and the distinguished somebody, half turning about, said, "What a pig, what a hog you are!" but while he was preparing to continue the lesson, Lopukhóf made a full turn towards the distinguished somebody, took the distinguished somebody by the body, and deposited him in the gutter very tenderly; then he stood over him, and said, "Don't you move, else I will drag you farther where the mud is deeper." Two muzhiks passed, looked on, praised him; a tchinovnik passed, looked at him, and did not praise him, but smiled sweetly; some carriages passed by; no one looked out; it could not be seen who was lying in the gutter; Lopukhóf stood there for a time, then he took the distinguished somebody, not by the body this time, but by the hand, picked him up, led him upon the highway, and said, "Akh, my dear sir, how did you happen to get into this plight? You have not done yourself any harm, I hope? Allow me to brush your coat!"

A muzhik passed by, and began to help wipe the dirt off from the distinguished somebody. Two meshchánins passed; they also stopped to help wipe him off; they wiped the dirt off from the distinguished somebody, and departed.

Kirsánof never had such an experience as that; but this was what happened to him: A certain lady, who had people to run errands for her, thought that it was necessary to have prepared a catalogue of the library left her by her husband, who was a follower of Voltaire, and had died twenty years before. Why such a catalogue was needed, after the lapse of twenty years, is more than I can tell. Kirsánof was selected to arrange the catalogue, at a salary of eighty rubles. He worked at it a month and a half. Suddenly the lady came to the conclusion that the catalogue was not necessary. She came into the library and said: "Don't take any more trouble about this work; I have changed my mind. And here's to pay you"; and she gave Kirsánof ten rubles. "Your ladyship" (he gave the lady the benefit of her full title), "I have already done more than half the work; out of seventeen shelves I have already catalogued ten."

"Do you find that I have taken advantage of you as regards pay?—Nicolas, come here and talk this matter over with this gentleman."

Nicholas came in.

"How do you dare to insult my maman?"

"You are a milk-sucker!"

An unjustifiable expression on Kirsánof's part. Nicolas was five years older than he.

"You had better hear both sides first."

"Help!" cried Nicolas.

"Help? I will show you how to call for help."

In the twinkling of an eye the lady screamed and fell in a swoon; and Nicolas felt that he could not move his hands, which were fixed to his sides, as by an iron belt; and indeed they were pinned by Kirsánof's right hand, while his left hand had Nicolas by the jaw, ready to clutch his throat, and Kirsánof was saying, "Just see how easily I can choke you." And he squeezed his gullet; and Nicolas perceived that it was a very easy thing for Kirsánof to choke him; but Kirsánof's hand has already left his throat. He can breathe freely; and yet Kirsánof's hand is at his throat. And Kirsánof addressing the Goliaths who appeared at the door, says: "Stay where you are, else I shall choke him! Get out of here, else I shall choke him!" All this Nicolas understood in the twinkling of an eye; he made a sign with his nose, which signified that Kirsánof was right in the case.

"Now, brother, see me down stairs," said Kirsánof, again turning to Nicolas, and continuing to embrace Nicolas as before. He went into the front room, went down stairs, followed from afar by the astonished gaze of the Goliaths, and on the last step he let go of Nicolas' throat, pushed Nicolas himself away, and went into a store to buy a cap, in place of the one which had remained as a prey in the possession of Nicolas.

Now, what difference can you find between such people? All their most prominent features are features not of individuals, but of a type; a type differing so greatly from that to which you are accustomed, sapient reader, that its general peculiarities hide the individual differences in them. These people when seen amongst others, are like Europeans among Chinamen, whom the Chinamen cannot distinguish apart. In all of them they see one characteristic, that they are "red-headed barbarians, who do not understand any ceremonies." In their eyes the French are just as red-headed as the English. And the Chinamen are right, as they look upon it; all Europeans are like any one European, not individuals, but representatives of a type, and nothing more. All of them alike do not eat cockroaches and centipedes; they are alike in not cutting people into little bits; they all alike drink brandy and wine made from grapes, and not from rice. And actually, even the one thing which the Chinamen see, is their native custom, the drinking of tea, practised in a diametrically different way from their way,—with sugar, and never without sugar.

Thus people of the type to which Lopukhóf and Kirsánof belong seem alike to people of a different type. Every one of them is a man, dauntless, firm, unwavering, capable of undertaking any matter; and if he undertakes it, he sticks so resolutely to it that it cannot slip out of his grasp. This is one side of their nature. Another side: each one of them is a man of irreproachable integrity, so much so that the question never even enters our mind, "Is it possible to rely on this person unconditionally?" It is as clear as the fact that he breathes with his lungs; as long as the lungs breathe, such a heart is warm and unchanged. You can lean your head upon such a bosom, you can rest upon it. These general features are so prominent that the personal peculiarities are covered over by them.

It is not long that this type has been in existence among us. In former times there were only isolated individuals, who gave promise of it; they were exceptions, and as exceptions they felt lonely and powerless, and for that very reason they were inactive, or they fell into despair, or they felt exalted, or became romantic or fanciful; that is, they could not possess the chief characteristic of this type; they could not show any cool practicability, an even, well-regulated activity, or active, sound good sense. Those were people who, though they had this very same nature, had not yet developed into this type; and this type is a recent growth; in my time it had not yet come into existence, though I am not very old; in fact, am not at all an old man. I myself could not have come to be such. I was brought up in a different epoch; and for the very reason because I myself am not of this type, I can, without the least hesitation, express my respect for it; unfortunately I do not give myself a word of praise when I say in regard to these people, They are good people.

This type sprang up not long ago, and it is growing rapidly. It was engendered by the times, it is a sign of the times, and, shall I say further, it will vanish with its time, and not a long time either. Its already short life is doomed to be short in the future. Six years ago these people were not to be seen; three years ago they were despised; and now!—but it does not make any difference what is thought about them now; in a very few years, a very few years, these people will be called upon, "Save us!" and whatever they will say, will be believed by everybody; a few years more, and maybe not years but months, and they will be cursed, and they will be driven off the stage, they will be hissed and insulted. All right, hiss and cast insults, drive them away and curse; you have gained your benefit from them; that is sufficient for them, and amid the noise of hissings, amid the thunder of curses, they will leave the scene, proud and modest, stern and kind, as they have ever been. And will nothing be left of them on the stage? No. How will the world get along without them? Wretchedly. But after them it will be still better than if they had not been. And years will pass, and people will say, "After they left, the world was better, but still it is bad enough." And when this is said, it shows that the time for this type has come again, and it will come again and be represented in greater numbers, in better forms, because then there will be more of good in the world; and again the same history will be repeated in a new light. And so it will come to pass that men shall say, "Well, now we are enjoying life"; and then it will not be an exceptional type, because all people will be of this same type, and they will find it difficult to understand how there ever was a time when it was considered a peculiar type, and not the general nature of all people.


But as Europeans among Chinamen are all of one face and one way of acting, only so far as the Chinamen are concerned, but in reality, among the Europeans there are incomparably wider differences than among the Chinese; so in this apparently monotonous type, the variety of individualities is developed into more classes and are more distinguishable from each other than among all the varieties of all the different types that are separate from each other. Here you find all sorts of people,—sybarites, ascetic, severe, and tender-hearted, and every other kind. But, as the sternest of Europeans is very kind, the most cowardly is very brave, the most passionate is very moral in comparison with the Chinaman, so it is with these; the most ascetic of them deems it more necessary for all men to be more comfortable than is imagined by the people not of this type; the most passionate are more stern in their moral rules than the greatest moralizers not of this type. But all this they interpret according to their own fashion; and morality, comfort, and sensuality and goodness, they understand in a peculiar way; and they all understand them in the same way, and not only do they all understand them in one way, but this one way is such a way that morality, comfort, goodness, and passion are all regarded as one and the same thing. But all this, again, is only when it comes into comparison with the understanding of the Chinamen; among themselves a great deal of difference is found in understanding these things, according to the differences of their nature. But how now to bring into harmony this conflict of nature and understanding among themselves?

In conversations about their own affairs among themselves, and only among themselves, and not among Chinamen, European natures give expression to their characteristics. Thus, among the people of this type, apparently there is a very great variety of natures when they are among themselves, and only among themselves and not with strangers.

We have had before us two people of this type, Viéra Pavlovna and Lopukhóf, and we have seen how their relations were arranged between them. Now there comes in a third person. Let us see what difference will be shown now that we have the possibility of comparing the other two with this one. Viéra Pavlovna sees before her Lopukhóf and Kirsánof. Hitherto she has had no choice; now she has.


But it is necessary to say two or three words about Kirsánof's outward appearance.

He, as well as Lopukhóf, had regular and handsome features. Some regarded the former, others the latter, as the better looking. Lopukhóf was rather thinner, had dark chestnut hair, gleaming dark eyes, which seemed almost black, an aquiline nose, thick lips, and a rather oval face. Kirsánof had blonde hair, inclining to a brownish shade, dark blue eyes, a straight Grecian nose, a small mouth, an oblong face, and a remarkably light complexion. Both were men of very tall stature, and straight; Lopukhóf somewhat broader across his shoulders, Kirsánof somewhat taller.

Kirsanóf's outward circumstances were very good. He was now a professor. The largest majority at the balloting was at first opposed to him; not only did they want to refuse him his professorship, but they would have taken away his doctor's degree; but this was impossible. Two or three young men, and one, not a young man, from among his former professors, friends of his, long ago declared to the rest of the faculty that there was in the world a certain Virchow, and he lived in Berlin, and also a certain Claude Bernard, and he lived in Paris, and certain others, whose names you could not remember, who also lived in various towns; and that Virchow, Claude Bernard, and the others were the stars, as it were, of the medical science. All this seemed extremely improbable, because we know all the stars of science,—Burghaf, Hufeland; and Harvey was also a very distinguished man, who discovered the circulation of the blood; then Jenner, who taught vaccination. And so we know them; but these Virchows and Claude Bernards we do not know; what kind of stars are they? However, the devil knows them. And here this very Claude Bernard spoke with respect about Kirsánof's works, when Kirsánof took his degree. And so they could not help it; they had to give Kirsánof the degree of doctor; and a year and a half later they gave him a professorship. The students said that if he came into the faculty, the party of good professors would be increased. He had never practised, and he said that he had given up the practice of medicine. But he used to spend long hours at the hospital; it happened that he dined there on some days, and even slept there many nights. But what has he done there? He said that he was working for science, and not for the sake of the sick. "I do not cure; I only observe, and make experiments." The students confirmed this, and declared that at the present time only quacks cured, because at this time it is impossible to effect cures. The hospital servants judged the matter in a different way. "Well, this Kirsánof takes folks home into his palace; it must be a bad case," they used to say among themselves; and then they would say to the patient, "Keep up good heart; it takes a tough sickness to stand up against this surgeon; he is a master, and a real father."


During the first part of Viéra Pavlovna's married life, Kirsánof used to be very frequently at the Lopukhófs', as often as every other day, or, to speak more accurately, almost every day; and soon, almost on the very first day, he became very close friends with Viéra Pavlovna, nearly as much so as with Lopukhóf. It lasted this way for half a year. One time they were sitting all three together: he, the husband, and the wife. The conversation was going on as usual, without any ceremony. Kirsánof was doing the most of the talking, but suddenly he grew silent.

"What has got into you, Aleksandr?"

"What has made you so solemn all of a sudden, Aleksandr Matvéitch?"

"Nothing in particular; I feel rather blue."

"That does not happen to you very often," said Viéra Pavlovna.

"I might say, never, without some reason," said Kirsánof, in a constrained tone.

A few minutes afterwards he got up and went away, earlier than some times, taking his leave in his usual simple manner.

Two days afterwards Lopukhóf told Viéra Pavlovna that he had been to see Kirsánof, who, as it seemed to him, had received him in a very strange way. Kirsánof apparently wanted to be ceremonious towards him, and this had always been an unnecessary formality between them. Lopukhóf had looked him straight in the face, and said:—

"Aleksandr, you must be provoked with some one; is it with me?"


"Is it with Viérotchka?"


"Then what is the matter with you?"

"Nothing at all; it is only in your imagination."

"Why aren't you friendly towards me to-day? You are not natural; you are as though you were provoked."

Kirsánof began to pour out his assurances that Lopukhóf was mistaken; and in this way he managed to confirm the impression that he was provoked. Then, afterwards, it seemed as though he must have been ashamed; he again became as unaffected, kind, friendly, as could be desired. Lopukhóf, availing himself of the fact that the man seemed in his right mind again, asked him:—

"Now, Aleksandr, tell me the reason of your getting provoked."

"I never thought of being provoked." And again he became disagreeable and disputatious.

What a marvel! Lopukhóf could not think of anything that might have offended him; and this did not seem possible, considering all their mutual respect and warmth of friendship. Viéra Pavlovna also tried hard to recollect whether she could have offended him in any manner, and she, too, could think of nothing out of the way; for she knew, just as her husband did, that it was impossible, as far as she was concerned.

Two days more passed; for Kirsánof not to call at the Lopukhófs' for four days was a most unusual circumstance. Viéra Pavlovna even wondered "could he be well?" Lopukhóf went round to see if he were really ill. "How? ill?" He is still angry. Lopukhóf questioned him persistently. After repeated negations, he began to get off some disjointed nonsense about his relations with Lopukhóf and Viéra Pavlovna; that he loves and respects them very highly; but after all that had happened, they were not attentive enough to him. But in what respect—and this was worst of all—there was not the slightest hint in his bombastic talk. It was clear that the gentleman was eaten up by ambition. All this was so savage to witness in such a man as Lopukhóf considered Kirsánof to be, and so the visitor said to his host:—

"Now, listen; we have been friends; and the time will come when you will be ashamed of this."

Kirsánof, with affected humility, replied that, in fact, it must on his side be a mere trifle; but what can be done, supposing he has been offended by many things?

"Nu, what was it then?"

He began to bring up a good many occasions at which he had taken offence lately, all in such a style as this: "You said that the lighter the hair of a person, the nearer he is to dulness; Viéra Pavlovna said that tea was getting dearer. The one was a hit at the color of my hair; the other was a hint that I was eating you out of house and home."

Lopukhóf's hands fell to his side. This man has gone crazy with his ambition; or, properly speaking, he has become a fool and a good-for-nothing!

Lopukhóf returned home in a gloomy frame of mind; it was bitter for him to see such a warp in a man of whom he was so fond. To Viéra Pavlovna's questions as to what he had learned, he answered gloomily that it would be better not to speak about it; that Kirsánof had spoken disagreeable nonsense, and that he was probably sick.

In three or four days Kirsánof, who had in all probability come to his senses and seen the savage disgracefulness of his behavior, came to the Lopukhófs. He behaved himself as well as possible; then he began to tell how mean he had been. From Viéra Pavlovna's words he perceived she had not heard from her husband of his absurdities. He sincerely thanked Lopukhóf for his consideration; and, as a punishment to himself, he began to tell the whole story to Viéra Pavlovna. He grew sentimental; he excused himself, and said that he was sick, and again there followed some more nonsense. Viéra Pavlovna tried to say that he ought to stop talking about it; that it was a mere trifle. He clung to the word trifle, and began to rattle off the same sort of ridiculous nonsense as he had done before, in his talk with Lopukhóf. He very delicately and circumstantially began to develop the thought that of course it was a trifle, because he was aware of his insignificance in the eyes of the Lopukhófs, but that he didn't deserve any more; and so on. And all this was said with the most underhanded, slyest hints, and, at the same time, with the most courteous expressions of respect and devotion. Viéra Pavlovna, hearing this, let her hands fall to her side exactly as her husband had done. When he had gone, they remembered that for several days previous to his entirely losing his balance he had been strange. Before, they had not noticed it particularly, or even perceived it; but now his former absurdities are explained. They were of the same kind, only more developed.

After this, Kirsánof began to call very often; but the continuation of their former simple relations was utterly impossible. From behind the mask of a respectable man there appeared such a long ass-ear that the Lopukhófs would have lost a great part of their respect for their former friend, even if this ear were hidden henceforth forever; but it continued to appear frequently. It would not show itself for any long time, and then it would hide itself; but it was pitiful, low, and ugly.

They soon became entirely cold to Kirsánof; and as he really had no pleasure in calling at the Lopukhófs', he soon ceased to call.

But he still used to meet the Lopukhófs at the houses of friends. Some time afterwards the spite of the Lopukhófs towards him grew less; there was nothing serious, the matter now. Lopukhóf began to call on him. In a year he even began to call at the Lopukhófs' again, and he was the same elegant Kirsánof as of old, simple and honest. But he called seldom; it was evident that he hesitated and was ashamed, when he remembered the stupid business of which he had been guilty. Lopukhóf had almost forgotten about it, and so had Viéra Pavlovna. But the cordial relations, once severed, had never returned again. According to outward appearances, he and Lopukhóf were close friends, and, in fact, they were so. Lopukhóf began almost to respect him as before, and called on him not unfrequently. Viéra Pavlovna also gave him back a portion of her former friendliness; but she saw him very seldom.


Now Lopukhóf's illness, or, more properly speaking, Viéra Pavlovna's extraordinary attachment to her husband, compelled Kirsánof to be more than a week in close, familiar intercourse with the Lopukhófs. He knew that he was stepping in a dangerous path, when he decided to spend whole nights with them, in order to take away Viéra Pavlovna's watch. How happy and proud he had been when, three years ago, having noticed in himself some signs of passion, he had so strenuously succeeded in doing all that was necessary for the interruption of its development. How delighted he felt at this! Two or three weeks he was drawn to the Lopukhófs; but at that time he felt more satisfaction from recognizing his firmness in the struggle than pain from the deprivation, and in a month the pain entirely passed, and there remained only the pleasure of his uprightness. It was so calm and delightful in his soul.

But now there was more danger than then. In these three years Viéra Pavlovna had assuredly undergone great moral development. Then she was scarcely more than a child; now it is otherwise. The emotion stirred by her could no longer resemble the amusing attachment to a little girl whom you love, and at whom you smile at the same time. And not only morally had she developed. If the beauty of a woman is a real beauty, then, in our far North, a beautiful woman grows more beautiful every year. Yes, three years of life at such a period develop a great deal of good in the soul, in the eyes, in the features, and in the whole person, if the person is good and the person's life is good.

It was a great danger, but only for him, Kirsánof. What danger could there be for Viéra Pavlovna? She loves her husband. Kirsánof is not so stupid and conceited as to look upon himself as a dangerous rival for Lopukhóf. And not out of false modesty does he think this; all respectable people who know him and Lopukhóf put them on the same level. And on Lopukhóf's side is the immeasurable advantage of having already won her love; yes, won it; he has absolutely gained her heart. Her choice is already made, and she is satisfied with her choice; and she can have no thought of looking for something better. Isn't it good enough as it is? It is ridiculous to think about it; this fear on her account and Lopukhóf's would be a very stupid piece of self-conceit on Kirsánof's part.

And is it out of any such stupid nonsense that Kirsánof should have to suffer a month, perhaps two? Is it from any such nonsense that he should let a woman strain her nerves, and run the risk of serious illness by sitting by her husband's bedside? Is it worth while, for the sake of avoiding a trifling and short interference with his old quiet and well-regulated life, to let serious harm befall a man, a man of no less worth? And this would have been dishonorable. And this dishonorable action is more disagreeable than the really not very severe struggle with himself which he would have to undergo, and the final end of which in the proud satisfaction of his own firmness there could be no doubt.

Thus reasoned Kirsánof, when deciding to relieve Viéra Pavlovna from her idle watching.

The necessity for the watching passed. For the preservation of propriety, so as not to make an abrupt stop, which would attract attention, Kirsánof had to call two or three times more on the Lopukhóf's every day, then in a week, then in a month, then in a half-year; and then his absence would be sufficiently explained by his occupation.


Everything was going well with Kirsánof, as he thought. His attachment was renewed, and stronger than before; but the struggle with it did not present any serious suffering; it was easy. Here Kirsánof was at the Lopukhófs' for the second time since Dmitri Sergéitch's cure was effected; and he was going to stay till nine o'clock; that would be enough; formality would be observed. Next he would call in two weeks' time; then the separation would be almost accomplished. And now it would be necessary to sit one hour more. And during this week the development of his passion had been about half scotched; in a month everything would be over. He is very well satisfied; he takes part in the conversation as naturally as possible, because he is rejoiced at his success, and his very satisfaction gives him greater unconcern.

Lopukhóf expected to go out of doors for the first time on the morrow. On this account Viéra Pavlovna was in a remarkably lively state of mind; she was even more rejoiced than the invalid himself. The conversation turned upon the illness. They laughed about it; and they praised, in a jocular tone, Viéra Pavlovna's wifely self-sacrifice, who had nearly upset her own health by worrying over what was not worth worrying about.

"Laugh away, laugh away," she said; "but I know well that if you had been in my place, you would not have had enough strength of mind to act any way different."

"What an influence the solicitude of others has upon a person," said Lopukhóf; "now, the sick man himself is subjected to the delusion that he must take God-knows-what care of himself, when he sees that people are worried on his account. I might have left the house three days ago, but I still stayed in the house; and this very morning I wanted to go out, but I postponed it for one day more, so that there might be less danger."

"Yes, you might have gone out a long time ago," said Kirsánof in confirmation.

"Now, I call this heroism, and, to tell the truth, I am awfully tired of it; I should like to go out this instant."

"My dear, it was for the sake of putting me at ease that you showed your heroism. But let us go out this very moment, if you are so anxious to put an end to your quarantine. I am going to run over to the shop for half an hour; let's all go together. It will be very good of you, after your sickness, to pay your first visit to our union. The girls will notice it, and will be greatly pleased at such an attention."

"All right; let's go all together," said Lopukhóf, with noticeable satisfaction at the idea of breathing fresh air to-day.

"I declare! the hostess has shown fine tact!" said Viéra Pavlovna. It did not occur to me that perhaps Aleksandr Matvéitch might not care to go with us."

"No, on the contrary, it is very interesting to me; I have been wanting, for a long time, to go there. Your thought is a happy one."

In point of fact, Viéra Pavlovna's suggestion turned out propitiously. The girls were really delighted that Lopukhóf paid them the first visit after his sickness. Kirsánof was greatly interested in the shop; and a man of his turn of thought could not help being interested. If a special cause had not prevented him, he would have been from the very first one of the most enthusiastic instructors in it. Half an hour, or maybe even an hour, in the shop passed before they knew it. Viéra Pavlovna led him through the different rooms, and showed him everything. While they were returning from the dining-hall into the working-rooms, a girl, who had not been in the working-rooms, came up to Viéra Pavlovna. The girl and Kirsánof looked at each other.


"Sasha!"[4] and they embraced each other.

"Sáshenka, my dear, how glad I am to see you!" The girl kept on kissing him, and laughed and cried at once. Coming to her senses from joy, she said: "No, Viéra Pavlovna, I am not going to speak about business now; I cannot part from him. Come, Sáshenka, let us go to my room."

Kirsánof was no less glad than she. But Viéra Pavlovna noticed an expression of deep grief in his eyes, after he recognized her. And this was not to be wondered at; the girl was in the last stages of consumption.

Nástenka had entered the union about a year before, and even then was very ill. If she had remained in the shop where she had been working till that time, she would have died. But in the union there was a chance for her to live somewhat longer. The girls entirely relieved her from sewing. It was easy for them to give her other work that was not harmful for her to do. She looked after the little interests of the shop; she took charge of the closets; she received orders; and no one could say that Nástenka was less useful that any one else in the shop.

The Lopukhófs went away, without waiting for Kirsánof to finish his interview with Nástenka.



On the next day, early in the morning, Nástenka came to Viéra Pavlovna.

"I want to tell you about what you saw yesterday, Viéra Pavlovna," she said; but for some time she was at a loss how to go on. "I would not want you to think ill of him, Viéra Pavlovna."

"What do you mean? You must have a poor opinion of me, Nastasia Borísovna."

"No; if it were some one else besides me, I should not have thought of such a thing; but you know I am not like other girls."

"No, Nastasia Borísovna, you have no right to speak about yourself in such a way. We have known you for a year; and before that a good many of our Union knew you."

"This proves that you do not know anything about me."

"How so? I know a good deal about you. You have been a servant-girl, the last time you were with the actress N.; after she got married, you left her, so as to avoid her father-in-law; you entered Y.'s shop, and from there you came to us. I know all the particulars about it."

"Of course, I know that Maksímova and Shéïna, who knew all about me, would not tell anything to anybody. But, after all, I thought that you and the others might have heard about me. Akh! how glad I am they yonder don't know anything about it! And I am going to tell you, so that you may know what a good man he is. I have been a very bad girl, Viéra Pavlovna."

"You, Nastasia Borísovna?"

"Yes, Viéra Pavlovna, I have. I have been a very bold girl; I had not the slightest shame, and I used to be always drunk. And that's the reason that I am ill, Viéra Pavlovna, because with my weak lungs I used to drink too much."

This was the third case of the kind that had come under Viéra Pavlovna's observation. These girls, who had behaved themselves with perfect propriety since their acquaintance with her, told her that hitherto they had been leading bad lives. The first time she was amazed at such a confession; but, after reasoning it over for several days, she asked herself: "How about my own life? The filth in which I grew up was also very bad. However, it did not stick to me; and there are probably thousands of women who have grown up in purity in families worse than mine. Is there anything strange in the fact that those whom a happy chance has brought out from such degradation are not ruined?"

She listened to the second confession, and was not surprised, because the girl who made it had kept intact all the noble peculiarities of a human being,—generosity, capability for genuine service, and softness of heart,—had even preserved a great part of her innocence.

"Nastasia Borísovna, I have heard such confessions as you want to make; and it was hard for both of us,—for her who spoke and for me who listened. I shall respect you not less, but rather more, than before, when now I know that you have endured a great deal; but I understand the whole story without listening. Let us not speak about it; there is no need for you to confess before me. I myself have spent many years in great sorrows; I am trying not to think about them, and I don't like others to speak about them; it's too hard."

"No, Viéra Pavlovna; I have a different feeling about it. I want to tell you what a good man he is; I want some one to know how grateful I am to him; and whom can I tell it to if not to you? What kind of a life I led, of course there is no need of speaking about that,—it was of the same stamp as that of all such poor creatures. I only want to tell you how I became acquainted with him. It is so pleasant for me to talk about him; and besides, I am going to live in his house, and you must know why I am going to leave the shop."

"If telling this story will give you any pleasure, Anastasia Borísovna, I will gladly listen. Let me get my work first."

"Yes; but it is impossible for me to work. How kind these girls have been, to let me have such work as agreed with my health. I shall be grateful to them all, to each one. Tell them, Viéra Pavlovna, that I asked you to thank them for me. I was walking on the Nevsky, Viéra Pavlovna; it was rather early when I went out. A student was walking along, and I accosted him. He did not reply, but crosses to the other side of the street. Then he sees that I am following him; I grasped him by the arm. 'No,' said I, 'I am not going to let you go, you are such a handsome little fellow.' 'But I beg of you to let go of me,', he says. 'No, come along with me.' 'I do not care to.' 'Well, then, I will go with you. Where are you going? I shall not leave you on any account!' I was such a shameless girl, much worse than anybody else."

"Perhaps, from the very reason, Anastasia Borísovna, that you were at heart more modest, more conscientious."

"Yes, it may be so. At least, I have seen this in others; not at that time, of course, but afterwards, I understood it. When I told him that I was going with him, at all events, he laughed, and said, 'If you want to, come along; but it will be useless.' He wanted to teach me a lesson, as he told me afterwards; it was disagreeable to him to have me clinging to him. And so I went along, and I told him all sorts of absurdities, but he kept silent; and so we went to his rooms. For a student he lived then very comfortably; he used to get from his pupils about twenty rubles a month, and he lived all by himself. I stretched out on his sofa, and said: 'Nu, where is your wine?' 'No,' says he, 'I shall give you no wine; but you can have tea, if you want.' 'With whiskey,' I said. 'No, without whiskey.' I began to do all sorts of foolish things, to be utterly shameless. He sat down and looked at me; but he did not show any interest, so offensive was it to him. Nowadays you can find such young men, Viéra Pavlovna; since that time young men have been growing morally better, but then it was a very rare thing. I began to get angry, and I scolded him. 'Since you are such a stick!' I said, 'so I am going.' 'What is the use of going now? you may as well have some tea; my landlady will bring the samovar right in. But don't abuse me.' And all the time he addressed me formally [with vui, you]. He said, 'You had better tell me who you are, and how you came to do such things.' I began to tell him everything that came into my mind. We make up stories to suit ourselves, and that's the reason no one ever believes us; but there are some, in spite of all that, whose stories are not made up; there are among us well-born and well-educated girls. He listened, and said: 'No; you have made up your story poorly. I should like to believe it, but it is impossible.' At this time we were drinking tea. And then he said: 'Do you know, your constitution makes it bad for you to drink? Your lungs are already very much injured by it. Let me examine you.' Well, Viéra Pavlovna, you won't believe me, but I assure you that I felt ashamed,—and yet what was my life? and how shamefully I had been behaving just a few minutes before!—and he noticed it. 'Don't be disturbed,' he says; 'I only want to examine your lungs.' He was then only in the second class, but he knew a great deal about medicine; he was away ahead in science.

"He examined my chest. 'No,' says he, 'you must not drink at all; you have very weak lungs.' 'How can we help drinking?' I asked. 'We cannot get along without it.' And it is really impossible, Viéra Pavlovna. 'Then you must give up the life that you are leading.' 'Why should I give it up? It's such a gay life.' 'No,' says he, 'there's very little gayety in it. Nu!' says he, 'I am very busy now, and you had better leave me.' And I left him, feeling very angry because I had wasted my evening; and I felt very much offended because he was such a passionless fellow, because we have our ambition in such matters, you know.

"And then in a month it occurred to me to go to the same place again. 'Come on,' says I, 'I'll go and see that stick again; I'll see if I can't wake him up.' This was just before dinner. I had gone to bed the previous night, and I had not been drinking; he was sitting with a book. 'Hullo, old stick,' says I. 'How do you do? What do you want?' Then I began again to do ridiculous things. 'I shall put you out,' he says; 'stop, I told you that I did not like it. You are not drunk now, and you can understand; and you had better heed what I say; your face shows that you are sicker than you were before; you must give up wine; just fix your dress and we will have a little talk.' Well, the fact was that my chest had already begun to pain me; he examined me again; he said that my lungs were in a worse state than before; he had a great deal to say; yes, and my chest did pain me, and so I began to get sentimental, and I burst into tears. I did not want to die, and he was all the time threatening me with consumption. And I say, 'How can I give up my mode of life? My khozyáïka will not let me go. I owe her seventeen silver rubles.' We were always kept in debt, you know, so that we could not have any voice in the matter. 'Nu!' says he, 'I have no seventeen silver rubles with me, but you come and see me day after to-morrow.' That seemed so strange, because I did not mean to give him any hint; and how could I have expected it? I did not believe my ears, and I wept still more violently, for I thought he was making fun of me. 'It is a sin and a shame to insult a poor girl when you see that she is weeping'; and I did not believe him for a long time, until at last I saw that he was in earnest. And what do you think? he raised the money, and gave it to me two days later; and even then I somehow did not believe it. 'How is it you do this when you do not want to take any favors from me?' I said. I paid off my khozyáïka, and rented a separate room; but I had nothing to do, and I had no money. And so I went on living as before, that is, not exactly as before; what an improvement it was, Viéra Pavlovna! I used to receive only my acquaintances, my good friends, those who did not offend me. And I had no wine either. And therefore what an improvement. And do you know how easy it was for me in comparison with what it had been before? no; after all, it was hard; and I want to tell you this. You know me; am I not a modest girl? Who ever hears anything bad of me now? And here in the shop how much care I take of the children! and they all love me; and those old women cannot say that I am teaching them anything bad. And so I lived in this way. Three months or so went by, and during this time I took good care of myself, because my life was peaceful; and though I was ashamed on account of the money, I did not look upon myself as a bad girl. Only at that time Sáshenka used to come to see me, and sometimes I used to go and see him. And now I am coming to speak of the subject that I wanted to tell you about. He did not come to see me as the others did, but he looked after me to see that I did not return to my former weakness, or get to drinking wine. And really the first days he helped me because I had a strong inclination for wine. And I was ashamed on his account; supposing he should come in and see that I was drinking! And possibly if it had not been for that, I should not have resisted, because my friends, very good young fellows, used to say, 'I am going to send out for wine'; but as I was ashamed on his account, I used to say, 'No, it must not be.' But otherwise I should have been tempted; the mere thought that wine was bad for me would not have been enough. And then in three weeks or so I grew stronger; my craving for wine passed, and I got out of the habit of drinking. And I kept laying up money to pay him back, and in two months I paid him up. How glad he was that I returned him the money. The day after he brought me some muslin for a dress, and some other things that he bought with that money. He used to come to see me after that just as a doctor calls to take care of an invalid. And a month after I had paid off my debt, he was sitting in my room, and said, 'Now, Nástenka, I begin to like your looks.' And really, it's true, wine spoils the complexion, and its effects don't pass off suddenly; but by this time they had passed, and the complexion of my face had become more delicate, and my eyes were clearer; and then again as I had got out of my former habits, I began to speak modestly, for you know my thoughts after I gave up drinking became modest, though I used to get entangled in my speech, and sometimes I used to forget myself on account of my former carelessness; but by this time I had got accustomed to behaving myself and to speaking more modestly. And as soon as he said that I pleased him, I was so happy that I wanted to throw myself on his neck, but I did not dare, and I refrained. And he said, 'You see, Nástenka, I am not devoid of feelings.' And he declared that I had become a nice modest young girl, and he caressed me; and how did he caress me? He took my hand and laid it on his, and began to smooth it with his other hand; and he looked at my hand, and indeed at that time my hands were white and delicate. And so when he took my hand—you would not believe it—I blushed, after my life, Viéra Pavlovna, as though I had been an innocent baruishna. This is strange, but it is so. But with all my shame,—it is absurd to say, Viéra Pavlovna, with all my shame, it is true,—I still said, 'How is it that you are willing to caress me, Aleksandr Matvéitch?' And he said, 'It is because you are a virtuous girl now, Nástenka.' And the words, 'virtuous girl,' that he called me, affected me so much that I burst into tears. And then he said, 'What is the matter, Nástenka?' and he kissed me. What do you think? When he kissed me, my head began to swim, and I forgot all about the past; is it possible to believe, Viéra Pavlovna, that such a thing could happen to me after such a life as mine?

"Well, on the next morning, I was sitting and weeping, and wondering what would become of me, and how should I live, poor creature that I was. All that was left for me was to throw myself into the Neva. I felt that I could not live such a life as I had been living! I might die; I might starve to death; but I could not live so any more. You see that I had been in love with him long ago; but, as he had not shown any such feelings towards me, I had no hope of ever winning his love, and my love died away within me, and I did not even know that I had it. And now it was all brought to light again; and, of course, when you feel such a love, how can you look upon anybody else with favor, except the man whom you love? You yourself know that this is impossible. There is nothing else in existence except the one man. Here I was sitting and weeping, 'What can I do now, being as I have nothing to live on?' And I really, made up my mind to go and see him once more, and then go and drown myself. And thus I spent the whole morning weeping. But suddenly I saw him coming in, and he began to kiss me, and he said, 'Nástenka, do you want to live at my house?' And I told him how I felt; and so I went to live at his house. That was a happy time, Viéra Pavlovna; I think that few have ever enjoyed such happiness. And he was always so kind to me. How many times it happened that I woke up, and he was sitting with a book; and then he would come and look after me, and he would forget his book, and he would sit and keep watch over me. But what a modest man he was, Viéra Pavlovna; I could understand it afterwards, when I came to read and find out how love is described in novels; I could judge then. But, with all his modesty, how he loved me! And what a feeling you have when a beloved man loves you. It is a happiness such as you can form no idea of. Let us imagine when he kissed me for the first time: my head even turned; I bowed before him. Such a feeling is sweet, indeed; but that was nothing in comparison to the feeling afterwards. Before the blood boils, you know, there is anxiety; and even in the sweet feeling there is more or less torment; so that it is even hard to bear it, although it is hardly worth while to say how blessed it is; because, for such a minute, you are ready to sacrifice your life,—and there are some who do sacrifice their lives, Viéra Pavlovna,—therefore it must be a great happiness. But still it is not this, not this at all. It is just the same as when you get lost in day-dreams sometimes, when you are sitting alone, and merely think, 'Akh! how I love him!' and there is no worriment, no anxiety at all, in this pleasantness; and you feel so calm, so easy in mind! So it is the same feeling, only a thousand-fold stronger, when this beloved man loves you. And how calm you feel; and the heart does not throb,—no, for that would mean disturbance, and you feel nothing of that kind,—but it is much smoother, and there is more pleasantness; and it beats so gently and your chest expands and you breathe freer! Akh! this is so, this is true; it is very easy to breathe! akh! how easy! So that when an hour or two passes, like one minute,—no, not a minute, not a second,—there is no time at all, just as when you fall asleep and get up again. If you fall asleep, you know that much time has passed since you went asleep; but how has the time passed? It did not make up a single minute. And then, again, it is the same thing as after you have been asleep: there is no weariness, but, on the contrary, freshness, courage, as though you had been resting; and so it is: you have been resting. I said that it was very easy to breathe, and that is the very truth. What a strength in the glance, Viéra Pavlovna! No caresses of friends can caress you in such a way, or give you such a sense of luxury, as his glance. All the rest that is in love is not as comforting as this comfort.

"And how he loved me! how he loved me! Akh! what a delight it was! No one can imagine it, except the one who has experienced it. You know that, Viéra Pavlovna!

"You know, Viéra Pavlovna, that the look of even a woman makes me blush; our girls will tell you how bashful I am. It is for that reason that I live in a separate room; and how strange it is, you would scarcely believe it. But you know all about it, and I need not tell you. But when you think about it, you cannot part from this thought. No; I am going to leave you, Viéra Pavlovna; there is nothing more for me to tell you. I only wanted to tell you how good Sáshenka is."


Nástenka finished telling her story to Viéra Pavlovna on other days. She lived at Kirsánof's house about two years. The signs of her threatening sickness seemed entirely to have disappeared; but at the end of the second year, when spring came, consumption suddenly appeared in its full development. The doctor thought that if she went away, she might count on staving off her death for a long while. They decided to part. To occupy her time in sedentary employment was also sure destruction. It was necessary for her to look for occupation as a housekeeper, chambermaid, nurse-girl, or something of the kind, and with such a mistress as would not impose trying duties upon her, and in such a way that there should not be unpleasantness, and this was a very important thing. These conditions were hard to meet; but such a place was found. Kirsánof had acquaintances among rising artists. Through them Nástenka found a place as chambermaid with one of the actresses in the Russian theatre, an excellent woman.

As long as the actress remained on the stage, Nástenka was well satisfied to live with her. The actress was a refined woman, and Nástenka valued her place; it would be hard to find another like it. Nástenka became attached to her because she never had any disagreeable scenes with her, and the actress seeing this, became kinder than ever. Nástenka lived a quiet life there, and her disease ceased, or almost ceased, to develop. But the actress got married, renounced the stage, and made her home in her husband's family. And here, as Viéra Pavlovna had already heard before, the actress's father-in-law began to affront the chambermaid. Nástenka, let us suppose, was not subjected to temptation, but it occasioned a family quarrel; the former actress began to put the old man to shame; the old man felt the shame. Nástenka did not want to be the cause of a family disorder, and even if she had wanted, she could not enjoy the peaceful life of her former situation, and she gave it up.

That was about two years and a half since her parting from Kirsánof. They had not seen each other at all during this time. He called upon her, but the happiness of the meeting affected her so unfavorably that he begged her not to let him call upon her for her own sake. Nástenka tried to live as chambermaid in two or three families, but everywhere she found so many worriments and unpleasantnesses, that it seemed better for her to become a seamstress, though it was a direct step towards the development of her disease; the disease would have been developed from any such trying position, and so it would be better for her to be subjected to such a fate, but without the unpleasantness, and only from her own work. A year of sewing entirely undermined Nástenka's health. When she entered Viéra Pavlovna's union, Lopukhóf, who was then the doctor for the shop, did everything possible to stop the development of the consumption; he did a great deal, that is, so far as a man with so little real knowledge of medicine can do. But the end was at hand.

Nástenka had enjoyed the delusion universal among those who suffer from consumption, imagining that her disease was not very far advanced, and so she did not seek to see Kirsánof; but for the last two months she had persistently asked Lopukhóf whether she had long to live. Why she wanted to know, she did not say, and Lopukhóf did not feel that he had the right to tell her plainly about the approaching crisis, for he did not see in her question anything more than the universal attachment to human life. He tried to calm her; but she, as it often happens, could not be contented, for she kept aloof from that which might have given her days a glimpse of happiness; but now she herself saw that she had not long to live, and her feelings were dominated by this thought: but the doctor assured her that she must take care of herself. She knew that she had to believe more in him than in her own hopes, and therefore she did not look to see Kirsánof.

Of course this doubt could not last long. According as her last days approached, Nástenka's questions became more persistent; she either would have said that she had a particular reason for knowing the truth, or Lopukhóf and Viéra Pavlovna would have guessed that she had a particular reason in her questions, and two or three weeks, or maybe several days later, the result would have been the same as really happened, owing to Kirsánof's unexpected appearance in the shop. But now the doubt was at an end; not brought by the further progress of her questions, but by this accidental circumstance.

"How glad I am, how glad I am! I always have been wanting to catch a sight of you, Sáshenka," said Nástenka, when she took him to her room.

"Yes, Nástenka, I too am no less glad than you; now you shall not leave me again. Come back to my house," said Kirsánof, who was drawn away by a feeling of sympathy and compassion; but after he said this, it occurred to him, "How could I have said that to her? She most likely is not aware of the nearness of the crisis."

But she either did not understand at first the sense that could be drawn from these words, or she understood it, and did not care to heed it; and her gladness at seeing once more the man whom she loved, deadened her grief at the approaching end; at all events, she simply showed her happiness by saying, "How kind you are! How could I have ever left you?"

But after he left she wept. Only now she either understood, or may have noticed that she had understood, what it meant for her to see him once more. "Well, it is of no use for you to take care of yourself any longer, but at least you shall enjoy the little of life that is left."

And indeed she was glad; he never left her for a moment, except those hours when he had to be in the hospital, or at the medical school; so she lived about a month, and he was always with her. And how much they talked about everything; what had happened since she had left his house, and still further recollections about her past, and how many pleasures she had; he even took her out to ride; he hired a coupé, and he took her out every pleasant day into the suburbs of Petersburg, and she was greatly delighted. Nature is so dear to a human being that even this pitiable, miserable nature surrounding Petersburg, which cost millions and tens of millions of rubles, people are delighted with; he used to read to her, and they played loto, and she even tried to play chess, as though she had time to learn it.

Viéra Pavlovna sometimes spent late hours at their house when returning from her walks, and still more often she used to call on the invalid in the morning, to distract her thoughts when she was alone, and when they were alone together, Nástenka had only one thing to tell her, how kind Aleksandr Matvéitch was, and how good, and how she loved him.


Four months passed. The watching over Nástenka and then his recollections about her deceived Kirsánof; it seemed to him that now he was out of danger as far as Viéra Pavlovna were concerned; he did not avoid her when she came to see Nástenka and stopped to talk with him; and afterwards when she tried to console him. As long as he mourned for Nástenka, there was nothing in his feelings towards Viéra Pavlovna except a friendly feeling of gratefulness towards her.

But,—the reader has already learned to know what I mean by but the same as he will always know beforehand what is going to follow the pages that he has already read,—but, of course, Kirsánof's feeling towards Nástenka had not been the same as Nástenka's feelings towards him; he had long ceased to feel love for her; he only felt well disposed to her, as towards a woman whom he had loved long before. His former love towards her was only the thirst of a youth to love some one, no matter whom. Of course Nástenka was not his equal, because they were not equal in mental development. When he ceased to be a youth, he could only feel pity for Nástenka, and nothing more; possibly he could be tender to her, on account of old recollections and compassion, and that was all. His grief for her, in fact, was very soon appeased; but when his grief was a thing of the past, he imagined that he was still occupied with it; and after he saw that he did not really feel any grief, but only recollections of it, he saw himself in such relations with Viéra Pavlovna that he found that he was entrapped in a great misfortune.

Viéra Pavlovna tried to distract him, and he gave himself up to it, for he considered himself safe, or rather not realizing that he was falling in love with Viéra Pavlovna again, or realizing that, by giving himself up to her care, he was drifting towards misfortune. Well, and what happened now in two or three months, after Viéra Pavlovna began to console him for his grief for Nástenka? Nothing except the fact that he used to spend almost every evening at the Lopukhófs', or escorted Viéra Pavlovna somewhere or other, frequently with her husband, but more often by himself. That was all that happened, but this was altogether too much, not only for him, but also for her.

How did Viéra Pavlovna spend her days now? Till evening it was just the same as before. Now, here it is six o'clock; at this time she usually goes alone to the shop, or she sits in her room, and works by herself. But now, if she has to be at the shop in the evening, Kirsánof was told about it the evening before, and he comes to escort her. On their walk to and from the shop,—by the way, it was not a very long distance,—they talk about various matters, generally about the union. Kirsánof himself is now the most active helper there. Once there she occupies herself in giving directions, and he too has a good deal to do; for thirty girls ask not a few questions and favors, which it is most convenient for him to fulfil, isn't it? And during the intervals he sits and talks with the children; and here several of the young girls take part in this conversation about everything in the world,—about the beauty of the Arabian stories, the "Thousand and One Nights," a good many of which he had already told them, and about the white elephants which are so esteemed in India, just as in our country a good many love white cats; half the company think that this is not good taste—white elephants, cats, horses; for all these are albinos, a sickly species; you can see by their eyes that they do not enjoy such good health as the colored ones; but the other part of the company stand up for the white cats.

"And don't you know anything more about the life of Mrs. Beecher Stowe, whose novel we have all known because you told us?" asked one of the growing girls. No; Kirsánof, just now, does not know it, but he will find out about it; it is very interesting to him, but now he can tell them something about Howard who was almost as great as Mrs. Beecher Stowe. Thus pass Kirsánof's talks, or Kirsánof's discussions with the little flock; one half of the flock, consisting of children, has been constantly the same, but the older half unceasingly changes. But now Viéra Pavlovna has finished her business, and she returns home with him to tea, and they all three sit for a long time after tea; now Viéra Pavlovna and her husband spend a much longer time together than when Kirsánof was not there. Almost every evening that they spend together, they have music for an hour or two: Dmitri Sergéitch plays, Viéra Pavlovna sings, Kirsánof sits and listens; sometimes Kirsánof plays, and Dmitri Sergéitch and his wife sing duets. But now it often happens that Viéra Pavlovna hurries from the shop, so as to have time to dress for the opera: now very often they go to the opera, sometimes all together, and sometimes Viéra Pavlovna and Kirsánof go by themselves; and besides, the Lopukhófs have company more often than before,—before not counting the young folks; for what kind of guests are young folks? they are only like nephews,—the Mertsálofs were almost their only visitors,—now the Lopukhófs have made friends with two or three lovely families. The Mertsálofs and two other families made arrangements to have every week, in their own circle, little evening parties with dancing; there used to be six couples, and even eight couples, of dancers. Lopukhóf scarcely ever goes to the opera or to these parties without Kirsánof; but Kirsánof very often escorts Viéra Pavlovna to these entertainments. Lopukhóf says that he much prefers to stay at home in his every-day coat on his sofa. And therefore, only about half the evenings they spend together; but these evenings they are together with scarcely any interruptions; it is true, when the Lopukhófs have no company besides Kirsánof, the sofa often draws Lopukhóf from the parlor, where the grand piano stands; the piano has now been brought from Viéra Pavlovna's room into the parlor; but this does not save Dmitri Sergéitch very much. In a quarter or a half hour, Kirsánof and Viéra Pavlovna give up the music, and sit by his sofa; however, Viéra Pavlovna does not sit long by the sofa; she quickly arranges herself comfortably on the sofa itself, but in such a way that there is plenty of room for her husband also; for the sofa is wide; that is, there is not any too much room, but she would throw her arm around her husband, and so it is comfortable for him to stay there.

And thus passed three months or more.

The idyl is no longer fashionable, and I myself do not like it at all; that is, personally I do not like it, just as I do not like sauntering, do not like asparagus—several things, aren't there, that I am not fond of? but it is impossible for any one man to like all dishes and all ways of amusement. But I know that these things, which are not according to my personal taste, are very good things; that they are to the taste, or they would be to the taste of a vastly greater number of people than those who, like me, prefer chess-playing to sauntering, sauerkraut with hemp oil to asparagus. I even know that the tastes of the majority which does not share my enjoyment in chess-playing, would be glad not to share my taste for sauerkraut with hemp oil, are not worse than mine; and so I say: let there be in the world as many amusements as possible, or let them almost absolutely vanish from the world, but let sauerkraut with hemp oil remain, as an antiquarian rarity for a few such odd fellows as I.

And, likewise, I know that for the huge majority of people, who are not in the least worse than I am, happiness must have an idyllic character; and I exclaim: "Let the idyl begin to reign over all the other characters in life." For a few originals who are not fond of it there will be other forms of happiness; but the majority must have the idyl. As to the fact that the idyl is not in fashion, and therefore people shun it, that is no objection at all; they shun it just as the fox in the fable shunned the grapes. It seems to them that the idyl is inaccessible, and therefore they lay down their dictum: "Let it not be in fashion."

But it is pure absurdity that the idyl is inaccessible; it is not only a good thing for almost all people, but it is very feasible; there ought to be no hardship in arranging it, only it must not be for one person, or ten persons, but for all. Now the Italian opera is an impossible thing for five people; but for the whole city of Petersburg it is very possible, as all see and hear. And so, too, the "Collected Writings of N. V. Gogol, Moscow, 1861," would be an impossible thing for ten people; but for the whole public it is very possible, and not expensive, as we all know. But as long as there is no opera for the whole city, it is possible for only a few very music-mad people to enjoy themselves at second-class concerts; and as long as the second volume of "Dead Souls"[5] was not printed for the whole public, only a few of the most eager admirers of Gogol, not valuing the labor, prepared each for themselves manuscript copies. A manuscript is incomparably worse than a printed book; a second-class concert is very poor compared to an Italian opera; but both the one and the other are good in their way.


If a stranger had consulted Kirsánof about the position in which Kirsánof found himself after he came to his senses, and if Kirsánof had been a perfect stranger to all the people who were concerned in the matter, he would have said to the one who came to consult with him: "To straighten out this affair by running away is too late. I do not know how the play will end, but for you to run or to stay is equally dangerous; but for those for whose peace you care, your running away would be still more dangerous than your remaining."

Of course Kirsánof would have said this only to a man like himself, or like Lopukhóf, to a man of firm character and undoubted virtue. To other people it would be useless to give advice about such a situation, because these other people invariably act in such cases meanly and contemptibly; they put the woman to shame; they dishonor themselves, and then go out into their own society, and whimper or boast, and take delight in their heroic virtue, or their amorous irresistibility. With such people neither Kirsánof nor Lopukhóf liked to talk about the way that men of generous character should act. But Kirsánof would have been right in telling any one his dictum that to run away now would be worse than to remain. It would have been to imply, "I know how you would act if you remained; you would act in such a way as not to expose your feelings, because only in this way you will not do ill by remaining. The task before you is so far as possible not to disturb the tranquillity of a woman whose life runs smoothly. But it appears that it is already impossible not to disturb it. The feeling that is incompatible with her present relations is already, according to all probability, or rather, to use simpler language, already, without any doubt, engendered in her, but as yet she does not know it. Whether it will spring up soon or not by herself without any interference on your part is uncertain. But your avoidance of her would be the very thing to call it out. Consequently your going away would only be to hasten the matter, a thing which you want to avoid."

But Kirsánof argued the case not as a stranger but as a participant. It seemed to him that to go away would be harder than to remain; the feeling impels him to remain; consequently would not to remain be the same thing as to yield to the feeling, to be tempted by its suggestions? What right had he to believe so absolutely that neither by words nor by looks he would not betray his feeling, would not bring it forth? And therefore it would be wiser to go away. In your own case it is very difficult to distinguish how far reason is tempted by the sophisms of inclination, because uprightness says, act, fight against temptation, then you have better chances for noble action. This is a translation from the language of theory into every-day speech; but the theory to which Kirsánof adhered, considers such lofty words as nobleness, to be ambiguous, obscure, and Kirsánof in his terminology would have expressed: himself thus: "Every man is an egotist; so am I; now the question comes up, 'Is it more profitable for me to go away, or to remain?' If I go away, I crush in me my personal feeling; if I remain, I am liable to disturb my feeling of human dignity by some stupid word or look which may be caused by this individual feeling. The individual feeling may be crushed; and by and by my peace of mind may be again restored; I may be again satisfied with my life. But if I once act against my human nature, I shall lose forever the possibility of peace, the possibility of self-satisfaction; I shall poison all my life. My position is like this: I am fond of wine, and before me is a flask with very good wine; but I have a suspicion that this wine is poisoned. I cannot tell whether my suspicion is well founded or not. Must I drink this flask of wine, or shall I pour it out so as not to be tempted by it. I must not call my decision either noble or even virtuous, these are too high words; I must simply call it coldly calculating common sense. I throw away the flask. Thus I deprive myself of some pleasure; I cause myself some displeasure; but by doing so I secure my health, that is, the possibility of having a great deal of such wine to drink, which I shall surely know is not poisoned. I simply do not act foolishly, and that is all the praise that I deserve."


But how could he withdraw? His former game of making believe offended, of exhibiting some mean feature of his character so as to depend upon it, would not work; twice to perform the same trick is impossible; a second performance like the first would only have revealed the design of the first, would have shown him up as the hero not only of the new, but also of the former affair. Yes; and generally speaking, it is necessary to avoid any abrupt cessation of relations. Such an avoidance would be easier, but it would be theatrical; it would arouse attention, that is, at the present time it would be mean and contemptible, or, according to Kirsánof's theory of egotism, it would be a stupid miscalculation. And so there remained only one, and the most tormenting means, that is, an unobtrusive renunciation carried out in a slow and unnoticeable manner, so that it might not be seen that he was giving them up. This action is very difficult; it requires great tact to disappear from sight so that your motion is not noticed, when you are watched by bright eyes; but it could not be helped; he had to do in this way. However, according to Kirsánof's theory, it was not tormenting at all, but rather agreeable; for the harder a deed is to accomplish, the gladder you are (on the selfish theory) at the strength and skill which you have shown while successfully accomplishing it.

And, indeed, he fulfilled it successfully; he did not betray his attention by one word too much or one word too little, or by a look; as before, he was free and jocular with Viéra Pavlovna; as before, he made it evident that he enjoyed her society, but there appeared various things to hinder his coming to the Lopukhófs' as often as before, or remaining there a whole evening as before, and the result was that Lopukhóf had to seize him more often than before, by his arm or the lappel of his coat, with the words, "No, old fellow, you can't get rid of this discussion so easily"; and by far the larger part of the time that Kirsánof spent at the Lopukhófs' he tried to stay by his friend's sofa. And everything was arranged so gradually that it was not noticed at all how the change was developing. Interruptions came along, and Kirsánof not only brought them up as excuses, but, moreover, was sorry (this did not happen every time, for too great show of sorrow would not do) that such an interruption happened. And these interruptions seemed to be so natural, so unavoidable, that the Lopukhófs themselves pushed him from the house reminding him that he had forgotten his promise to be at home, because such and such an acquaintance, whom he ought to see, was coming to his house. Or he forgot that if he did not call to-day on such and such a person, such and such a person would be offended; or he had forgotten that he ought to work for at least four hours, and ought he not to sleep a little to-night in preparation for it? Why, it's ten o'clock already, and he must not talk any more; he must go and take up his work. Kirsánof, moreover, did not always listen to them when they reminded him; he would not go to see his acquaintances, he would let his friend get angry, or the work would not run away, so he would spend the evening with them. But these interruptions kept growing more frequent, and scientific operations began to steal unmercifully one evening after another from Kirsánof. They might go to the deuce, according to his opinion (and sometimes he used to say this aloud); that is, his scientific occupations or his acquaintances have been imposing upon him more than usual; how they did impose upon him! (This also he used to say aloud.) And so it seemed to him—and the Lopukhófs saw very well how it was—that he was getting to be very popular, and so there always came up more and more people to whom he was necessary; and then he must not treat his work carelessly, for there was no excuse for his being so lazy; and, indeed, he had been very lazy during the last few months, and it would be hard for him to begin work again; "But you must work, brother Aleksandr," and she would say, "It's time, Aleksandr Matvéitch."

The manœuvre was a difficult one; for week after week it was necessary to prolong this wheeling "to the left and around," and the turn was made so slowly, so steadily, like the hands of a clock. Look at it as attentively as you please; you cannot see that it is turning, but it does its work silently; it steadily goes away from its former position. And what pleasure Kirsánof, as a theorist, had in watching his skill in putting this into practice. Egotists and materialists act only for their own pleasure! And Kirsánof, laying his hand on his heart, could say that he was playing this game only for his own pleasure. He delighted in his skill and his boldness.

Thus passed a month, and maybe somewhat more; and if any one had reckoned, he would have found that during this month his friendliness to the Lopukhófs had not diminished a hair's breadth; but fourfold less time he spent with them, and simultaneously he reduced to almost a half the time that he used to spend with Viéra Pavlovna. One month more, and while their former friendship still remained, the friends would see each other but little, and the thing would have its hat on.

Lopukhóf's eyes were sharp; don't they really see anything? No; not a thing.

But Viéra Pavlovna? and Viéra Pavlovna notices nothing. But does she notice no change in herself? Viéra Pavlovna notices no change in herself. Only Viéra Pavlovna dreams a dream.



And Viéra Pavlovna dreams a dream.

After tea, she had a talk with her mílenki, and went to her room to lie down,—not to sleep; it was too early to sleep. Why, it was only half-past nine; no, she did not even undress; she only lay down to read. And here she is reading as she lies on her little bed; but the book falls away from her eyes, and Viéra begins to think: "What is the reason that lately I have been feeling lonesome occasionally; or not 'exactly lonesome, or does it merely seem so? No; it is not lonesome, but I only just happened to remember that I wanted to go to the opera this evening: but this Kirsánof, attentive fellow that he is, went too late to get tickets; he might have known that when Bosio[6] is singing, it is impossible to get two-ruble tickets at eleven o'clock. Of course he cannot be blamed; he must have been working till five o'clock, surely till five o'clock, though he didn't confess it; and yet he is to blame. No; after this, I'd better ask the mílenki to get tickets, and I guess I'd better go to the opera with my mílenki, too; mílenki would never be so stupid as to let me go without tickets, and he is always glad to go with me; my mílenki is such a sweet fellow! And on account of this Kirsánof, I have missed hearing 'Traviata.' I would go every night to the opera, if there were opera, no matter how bad it might be, provided only Bosio sang the chief rôle; if I had such a voice as Bosio, it seems to me I would sing all day long. I wonder if I could get acquainted with her. How could I manage it? That artillerist is well acquainted with Tamberlík.[7] Could it be done through him? No; it is impossible; what an absurd thought! What is the good of getting acquainted with Bosio? Would she sing for me? Of course she has to save her voice.

"And how did Bosio succeed in learning Russian? How purely she pronounces! But what absurd words! Where could she have found such wretched poetry? Yes; she must have studied out of the same grammar which I did; those verses were quoted in it to illustrate the use of quotation marks. How stupid it is to quote such verses in a grammar! though it would not be so bad if the poetry were better; but there is no need of thinking about the meaning of the verses; all one needs to do is to hear her sing:—

'The hours of pleasure
Make the most of;
The years of youth
Give up to love.'[8]

"What ridiculous poetry! wrong accent in the second line: make the most of! of, uv! But what a voice and what feeling she puts into her singing; and her voice is vastly sweeter than it used to be—incomparably better! It is wonderful! How could it improve so much? And here I was wondering how I could get acquainted with her, and she herself has come to call upon me. How did she find out that I wanted her to?"

"Yes; you came to call on me a long time ago," says Bosio, and she speaks Russian.

"I called upon you, Bosio? How could I have called upon you when I was not acquainted with you? But I am very, very glad to see you."

Viéra Pavlovna pushed aside her bed-curtain, so as to give Bosio her hand; but the cantatrice laughs, and it seems that it is not Bosio at all, but de Merrick in the rôle of the gypsy "Rigoletto"; only the gayety of the laughter is de Merrick's, but the voice is still Bosio's, and she runs away and hides herself behind the bed-curtain. How disagreeable, that this bed-curtain hides her—and before there was no bed-curtain at all: where did it come from?

"Do you know why I came to you?" And she laughs, as though she were de Merrick and at the same time Bosio.

"Who are you? You are not de Merrick, are you?"


"Are you Bosio?"

The songstress laughs. "You learn rapidly; but now it will be necessary for us to attend to what brought me here. I want to read your diary with you."

"I do not keep a diary; I never kept one."

"Look here; what is that lying on this little table?"

Viéra Pavlovna looks; on the table near the bedstead is lying a copy-book with the inscription, "V. L.'s Diary." Where did this copy-book come from? Viéra Pavlovna takes it, opens it; the book is written in her own hand—but when?

"Read the last page," says Bosio.

Viéra Pavlovna reads: "Again I am often obliged to stay alone whole evenings. But that's nothing; I am used to it."

"Is that all?" asks Bosio.

"That's all."

"No; you did not read it all."

"There is nothing more written there."

"You cannot deceive me," says the visitor. "What is this?"

From behind the bed-curtain comes forth a hand; what a handsome hand! No; this wonderful hand does not belong to Bosio, and how does this hand come out from the curtain without pushing it apart?

The hand of the new visitor touches the page; from under the hand appear new lines, which were not there before.

"Read," says the visitor.

And Viéra Pavlovna's heart begins to feel oppressed; she has never seen these lines before; she did not know that they were written, but her heart is oppressed. She does not wish to read the new lines. "Read," repeats the visitor.

Viéra Pavlovna reads: "No; it is tiresome for me to be alone. Once I did not feel the loneliness. Why is it tiresome for me now when it did not used to be?"

"Turn back a page," says the visitor. Viéra Pavlovna turns a page:—

"The summer of this year!"

"Who writes diaries like that?" thinks Viéra Pavlovna; "it should have been written, '1885, June or July,' and have the day of the month; but here it stands: 'The summer, of this year'; who keeps diaries in that way?"

"The summer of this year; we go picnicking in our usual way into the suburbs, to the islands, and this time mílenki goes along with us. How enjoyable it is to me!—Akh! so it is August, is it? What day of the month? the fifteenth; or, no, the twelfth? Yes, yes, it was about the fifteenth; it was after that excursion that my poor mílenki became sick," thinks Viéra Pavlovna.

"Is that all?"

"That's all."

"No, you don't read everything. What is this?" says the visitor, and again through the unparted bed-curtain comes the wonderful hand; and again it touches the pages, and again on the pages appear new words, and again Viéra Pavlovna reads against her will the new words, "Why doesn't my mílenki come along with us oftener?"

"Turn one leaf more," says the visitor.

"My mílenki has so much to do, and it is all for my sake; for my sake he is working, my mílenki;—and that is the answer," thinks Viéra Pavlovna, happy at the thought.

"Turn one page more."

"What honest, noble people these students are, and how they respect my mílenki. And I enjoy myself with them just as though they were brothers, and we have no ceremoniousness."

"Is that all?"

"That is all!"

"No, read further."

And again appears the hand and touches the page, and again come forth new lines, and again Viéra reads the new lines:—

"The sixteenth of August—that is on the second day after our visit to the island; no, it was exactly the fifteenth," thinks Viéra Pavlovna: "all the time the mílenki spoke with that Rakhmétof,[9] or as they called him out of jest, the rigorist, and his comrades, but he spent hardly quarter of an hour with me.—That is not true; he spent nearly half an hour with me," thinks Viéra Pavlovna, "besides the time when we were sitting together in the boat."

"The seventeenth of August; yesterday the students spent a whole evening with us."—Yes, it was on the evening when the mílenki was taken sick—Mílenki talked with them the whole evening long. Why did he spend so much time with them and so little with me? He is not working all the time; he himself says that he is not working all the time; that without rest it is impossible to work; that he takes a great deal of rest, that he thinks about nothing else except taking a rest; why does he think by himself and not with me?"

"Turn over one leaf more."

"July of the present year and every month of the present year, and until mílenki became sick, then last year and before that too. Five days ago the students called on us, and yesterday too. I carried on with them, it was so gay. To-morrow or day after to-morrow they will call again, and again it will be gay."

"Is that all?"

"That is all!"

"No, read further."

Again appears the hand, touches the page, and again from under the hand come new lines; and again against her will Viéra Pavlovna is reading them:—

"The beginning of the present year, especially at the end of spring. Yes, it used to be gay with these students, but that was all. But now I often think it was childish nonsense; such nonsense will amuse me for a long time yet. Probably even when I have come to be an old woman, when I myself will not be of the age for playing, I shall delight in the youthful games which will remind me of my childhood; for even now I look upon the students as younger brothers, but I should not like to become a Viérotchka always when I want to rest from serious thoughts and labors. I am now Viéra Pavlovna, and to enjoy one's self like Viérotchka is only agreeable at times, but not always. Viéra Pavlovna sometimes wants such happiness that she might still remain Viéra Pavlovna; and this happiness comes only with one's equals in life."

"Turn back several pages more."

"I have opened a sewing union, and went to Julie to ask for orders. Mílenki stopped at her rooms to get me. She kept us to breakfast and she ordered champagne, and she forced me to drink two glasses. We began to sing, run, shout, wrestle; how gay it was! Mílenki looked on and laughed."

"Is that really all?" asks the visitor, and again appears the hand, and again from under the hand appear new words, and again Viéra Pavlovna reads against her will:—

"Mílenki only looked on and laughed. Why didn't he join in with us? That would have made it still gayer. Was it that it was improper, or didn't he care to take a part in our sport? No, it was not in the least improper, and he might have done it! But he has such a nature. He not only does not interfere; he also approves, but that is all."

"Turn one page back."

"I went with mílenki for the first time since my marriage to see my parents. It was hard to see the life that oppressed and stifled me before my marriage. My mílenki! from what a horrible life he saved me! and that night I had a horrible dream, and my mámenka reproached me for being ungrateful; and she spoke the truth, but such fearful truth that I began to groan. Mílenki heard my groan and came into my room, and I was singing all the time (in my dream) because my loving 'bride' came and consoled me. The mílenki wanted to act as my dressing-maid! How ashamed I was! But he is such a modest man? He only kissed my shoulder!"

"Is that all that is written? You cannot deceive me! read!" And again from under the visitor's hand appear the new words, and Viéra Pavlovna reads them against her will:—

"This seems to me rather insulting!"

"Turn several pages back."

"To-day I was waiting for my friend D. on the Boulevard, near the new bridge. There lives a lady, at whose house I expected to be a governess; but she was not willing to take me. I returned home with D. very despondent. I was thinking, in my room, before dinner, that it would be better to die than to live as I am living now; and suddenly, at dinner, D. says: 'Viéra Pavlovna, let us drink to the health of my bride and your bridegroom.' I could hardly refrain from tears, in the presence of all, from joy at such an unexpected salvation. After dinner, I talked a long time with D. about how we should live. How I love him! He is leading me out from the cellar!"

"Read it all."

"There is nothing more to read."


Again from under the visitor's hand appear new lines.

"I do not want to read," says Viéra Pavlovna, in fear. She has not yet distinguished what is written in those new lines, but already it is horrible to her.

"You cannot help reading, when I bid you to read. Read!"

Viéra Pavlovna reads:—

"Do I only love him because he led me out from the cellar—not himself, but my salvation from the cellar?"

"Just turn back once more, and read the very first page."

"It is my birthday, to-day; to-day I spoke for the first time with D., and fell in love with him. I never before heard such noble and consoling words from any one. How he sympathizes with everything that demands sympathy, wants to help everything that needs help! How sure he is that happiness is possible for all people, that it must be, and that anger and woe are not forever; that a new and bright life is rapidly approaching us! How joyfully my heart expanded when I heard these assurances from this learned and serious man, for they confirmed my own thoughts. How kind he was when he spoke about us poor women! Every woman would love such a man. How clever he is! how generous! how kind!"

"Good! Turn again to the last page."

"But I have read that page!"

"No; that is not the last one yet. Turn one leaf more."

"But there is nothing on this leaf!"

"Just read! Do you see how much is written on it?" And again from the touch of the visitor's hand appear lines which were not there before. Viéra Pavlovna's heart grows cold.

"I do not want to read! I cannot read!"

"I command you. You must!"

"I cannot! I will not!"

"Then I will read for you what is written. Just listen.—'He is a noble man, a generous man; he is my saviour! But generosity gives rise to respect, confidence, and readiness to act in unanimity, friendship. A saviour is requited by gratefulness, by devotion; that is all. His nature maybe is quicker than mine. When the blood is boiling, his caresses burn into the heart. But there is another demand; a demand for quiet, calm caresses; a demand for sweet dreams in a tender sentiment. Does he know it? Do our natures agree? our demands? He is ready to die for my sake, and I for his; but is that enough? Does he live in his thoughts for me? Do I live in my thoughts for him? Do I love him with such a love as my soul craves? Before, I did not realize the demand for a quiet, tender feeling. No, my feeling for him is not—'"

"I do not want to listen any more!"

Viéra Pavlovna throws away the diary with indignation:—"You wretch! you abomination! I never asked you to come! Leave me!"

Her visitor is laughing, with a still, good-humored laugh.

"No, you don't love him; these words were written with your own hand."

"I curse you!"

Viéra Pavlovna wakes up with this exclamation, and quicker than she could make out that it was only a dream that she had seen, and that she had waked up, she starts to run.

"My dear, take me in your arms! protect me! I dreamed such a terrible dream!" She snuggled up to her husband. "My dear, caress me! be tender to me! protect me!"

"Viérotchka, what is the matter with thee?" The husband embraces her. "Thou art all of a tremble!" Her husband kisses her. "Thou hast tears on thy dear cheeks! There is a cold sweat on thy brow! Thou wert running barefooted over the cold floor, darling. I am kissing thy little feet to put some warmth into them."

"Yes, fondle me! save me! I dreamed a horrible dream; I dreamed that I did not love thee."

"My dearest, whom dost thou love, if not me? No; it is an idle, absurd dream."

"Yes, I love thee! Only caress me, fondle me, kiss me! I love thee—I want to love thee!"

She embraces her husband passionately; she clings to him, and when he has pacified her with his caresses, quietly falls asleep, kissing him.


The next morning, Dmitri does not go to call his wife to breakfast; she is there with him, clinging to him. She is still asleep, and he is looking at her, and thinking, "What can be the matter with her? what frightened her so? what caused that dream?"

"Stay here, Viérotchka; I will bring thee thy tea here. Don't get up, my dear little girl.[10] I will bring it to you, and you can wash your face and not get up."

"No, I will not get up; I will be awhile, it is so comfortable for me here. How smart you are, mílenki! and how I love thee! And now I have washed my face, and now thou canst bring the tea here. No; first take me into thy arms." And Viéra Pavlovna long holds her husband in her embrace. "Akh! my mílenki, how absurd I was! How did I happen to come running to your room? What will Masha think now? I shall hear from her how I woke up in your room. Kiss me, my mílenki, kiss me. I want to love thee; I must love thee. I am going to love thee as I never loved thee before."

Viéra Pavlovna's room is empty now. Viéra Pavlovna, without any concealment from Masha, has moved to her husband's apartment. "How tender he is, how kind, my mílenki! and I could imagine that I did not love thee! How absurd I am!"

"Viérotchka, now that you are calmed down, tell me what you dreamed day before yesterday."

"Akh! what nonsense! I only dreamed, as I told you, that you caressed me very little; but now it is good. Why didn't we always live this way? Then I should not have dreamed that horrible dream; it was dreadful, disgusting! I don't like to think about it."

"Yes, but if it had not been for it, we should not be living as we do now."

"That is true; I am very grateful to her; to that disgusting, no, not disgusting, I mean splendid, woman!"

"Whom do you mean by 'she'? Have you found some new friend beside your former 'beauty'?"

"Yes, I have. Some woman or other called on me with such a fascinating voice, much finer than Bosio's, and what lovely hands she had! Akh! what wonderful beauty! but all that I could see of her was her hand; she, herself, was hidden behind the bed-curtain; I dreamed that at my bedside, and that was the reason I gave up that bed; because I had such a dream in it. There was a bed-curtain, and that my 'visitor' hid herself behind it; but what a wonderful hand she had, my dear; and she sang about love, and she revealed to me what the meaning of love was: now, I understand, my dear. What a stupid little thing I was because I did not understand; I was a mere girl, a foolish little girl."

"My dear, my angel, everything has its time. The way we lived before was love, and the way that we live now is love; some people must have one kind of love, others another. Hitherto the one kind of love satisfied you; now you need another. Now you are a woman, my dear, and what you did not want then, you must have now."

A week or two pass. Viéra Pavlovna makes herself comfortable. She is in her own room now, only when her husband is not at home, or when he is working, or rather when he is working she often sits in his library; when she sees that she disturbs him, that his work requires his full attention, then she does not interrupt him. But such work does not often come along; for the most part, it is scientific work, which is entirely mechanical, and accordingly three-fourths of the time he has his wife by his side, and at times they caress each other. But one contrivance was necessary; they had to buy another sofa a little smaller than the husband's. And so Viéra Pavlovna, after dinner, ensconces herself in her little sofa;[11] and her husband sits by her little sofa, and takes delight in looking at her.

"My dear, why do you kiss my hand? You know I don't like it."

"Oh! I forgot that you considered it an affront; well, [nu] I am going to keep on just the same."

"My mílenki, you are saving me the second time; you saved me from bad people, and you have saved me from myself. Caress me, my dear; caress me!"

A month passes. Viéra Pavlovna after dinner ensconces herself comfortably on her wide, little, soft divantchik in her room and her husband's; that is, in her husband's library. He sat down on her little sofa, and she threw her arms around his neck; she bent her head to his bosom, but she is lost in thought; he kisses her, but her melancholy does not pass away, and her eyes are almost ready to shed tears.

"Viérotchka, my dear, what makes you so pensive?"

Viéra Pavlovna weeps, but she says nothing. "No,"—she wipes away her tears.—"No, don't caress me, dear! That's enough; thank thee." And she looks so affectionately and frankly at him. "Thank thee, thou art so kind to me!"

"Kind, Viérotchka? What is it? what do you mean?"

"Yes, kind, my dear; thou art kind."

Two days pass. Viéra Pavlovna again ensconces herself comfortably after dinner; no, she is not comfortable, but she is lying and thinking; and she is lying in her own room, on her own bed. Her husband is sitting near her with his arm around her; and he also is lost in thought.

"No, it is not this; it is not my fault," thinks Lopukhóf.

"How kind he is; how ungrateful I am!" thinks Viéra Pavlovna. And that is what they think.

She says, "My dear, go to your room and work, or else take a rest," and she tries to say, and succeeds in saying, these words in a natural and not melancholy tone.

"Why do you drive me away, Viérotchka? It is pleasant for me here," and he tries to say these words, and he succeeds in saying these words, in a natural and jocular tone.

"No, go away, my dear; you have done enough for me. Go, and get rested."

He kisses her, and she forgets her thoughts, and again it is sweet and easy for her to breathe.

"Thank you, dear," she says.

And Kirsánof is perfectly happy. The struggle has been pretty hard this time, but how much inward satisfaction it afforded him! and this satisfaction will never pass away, though the struggle will soon be over; but it will warm his heart for a long day, till the end of his life. He is honorable. Yes, he has harmonized them; yes, in reality, he has brought them into harmony. Kirsánof is lying on his sofa; he is smoking and thinking, "Be honest, that means be prudent; don't make any miscalculation; remember the axiom: remember that the whole is greater than any of its parts; that is, that your human nature is stronger, is more important for you than every other individual tendency; and therefore treasure its benefits above those which may come from any separate tendency of thine, if they prove to be anyway inconsistent with the whole, and that's all; and that means be honest, and all will be well. One rule, and how commonplace it is, and that is the whole result of science; and that completely fills the volume of the laws of a happy life. Yes, happy are those who are born with the capability of understanding this simple rule. In this respect, I am very fortunate. Of course I am very much indebted to training, more probably than to nature. But gradually it will develop into a general rule, which will be the result of the universal training and circumstances of life. Yes, then it will be easy for everybody to live in this world, just as it is for me now. Yes, I am satisfied; yet I must go and call on them. I have not been there for three weeks; it's time, even though it may be unpleasant for me. I am not drawn there any more at all; but it's time. Some of these days I will stop in there for half an hour, or would it not be better to postpone it for a month? It seems to me that I can. Yes, my retreat has been well managed; my manœuvres are at an end; I have passed from their sight, and now they will not notice whether it's three weeks or three months since I have been to call on them. And it is agreeable to think, when you are away, about people towards whom you have acted uprightly. Now I shall rest on my laurels."

And Lopukhóf in two or three days later still, also after dinner, comes into Viérotchka's room, takes his wife in his arms and carries her to her ottoman in his room. "Rest here, dear!" And he takes delight in looking at her. She fell asleep smiling; he is sitting and reading; and she opened her eyes and thinks:—

"How his room is decorated! there is nothing in it except what is absolutely necessary. Yet he has his own tastes; there's a big box of cigars, which I gave him last year; he has not opened it yet; it's waiting its time. Yes, it's his only pleasure, his own only luxury—cigars. No, he has no other,—the photograph of that old man; what a splendid face that old man has! what a mixture of kindness and vigilance in his eyes and in the whole expression of his face! what trouble Dmitri took to get this photograph! for Owen's photographs are not to be had. He wrote three letters, two of his letters did not reach the old man; the third one reached him, and how long he tormented him before he succeeded in getting this really superb photograph, and how happy Dmitri was when he got it, together with a letter from the 'Saintly old man,' as he calls him, in which Owen, as he says, praised him. And here is still another luxury: my portrait; half a year he laid up money for the sake of getting a good artist, and how he and the young artist bothered me. Two pictures and that's all. Would it cost much to buy a few engravings and photographs just as I have in my room? And he has no flowers, while I have quantities in my room. Why shouldn't he like flowers as well as I do? Is it because I am a woman? What nonsense! Or is it because he is a serious and scientific man? But Kirsánof has flowers and engravings, and he too is a serious, scientific man. And why does he hate to give up his time to me? I know that it costs him a real effort! Is it because he is a serious, scientific man? But here's Kirsánof. No! no! he's kind, kind! he has done everything for me, he is always ready to do anything to gratify me. Who can love me as he does? And I love him and I am ready for anything for his sake—"

"Viérotchka! you are not sleeping, dear!"

"My mílenki, why haven't you any flowers in your room?"

"Very well, dearest,[12] I will get some to-morrow. It simply did not occur to me that it was a good thing. But it is very nice."

"And what was it that I wanted to ask you about besides? Oh, yes! do get some photographs; or rather, I'm going to buy you some flowers and photographs."

"Then they will surely be agreeable to me. I like them for themselves, but then they will be still more delightful to me. But, Viérotchka, you are getting blue again; you have been thinking about your dream. Will you allow me to ask you to tell me something more about the dream that frightened you so much?"

"My dear,[13] I have not been thinking about it at all. It is so painful for me to think about it."

"But, Viérotchka, maybe it would be well for me to know about it."

"Very well, my dearest! I dreamed that I was bored because I had not gone to the opera, and I was thinking about Bosio; some woman seemed to call on me, and at first I thought it was Bosio, but she kept hiding from me; she compelled me to read my diary; and there was nothing in it except how we loved each other; but when she touched her hand to the pages, new words seemed to be which said that I did not love you."

"Forgive me, dearie,[14] for asking one thing more. Was that all that you saw in your dream?"

"My dearest, if that had not been all, wouldn't I have told thee so? And I have already told thee all."

This was said so tenderly, so sincerely, so simply, that Lopukhóf felt in his heart a wave of warmth and sweetness, such as one who has once experienced this joy will never forget till his dying day. Oh, how pitiful that only a few, a very few, husbands can have this feeling! All the pleasures of happy love are nothing in comparison with it; it fills the human heart with the purest content, the holiest pride. In Viéra Pavlovna's words, which were spoken with a shade of melancholy, rang a reproach, but the significance of the reproach was this: "My dear, don't you know that I have perfect confidence in you? A wife may hide from her husband the mysterious motions of her soul; such are those very relations in which they stand to each other. But you, my dear, have so behaved that there has never been any need of hiding things from you, that my heart is open before you as before my own eyes."

This is a great merit in a husband; this great reward is purchased only by a high moral worth, and whoever has deserved it has a right to look upon himself as a man of unquestionable nobility; he may boldly hope that his conscience is pure and will always remain pure, that his manhood will never play him false, that in all trials of every sort he will remain calm and firm, that fate is not reigning over the peace of his soul, that from the time that he has deserved this great honor, to the very last moment of his life, disregarding whatever shocks to which he may be subjected; he will be happy in the consciousness of his worthy manhood. Now we know enough of Lopukhóf to see that he was not a sentimental man, but he was so touched by these words of his wife that his face burned:—

"Viérotchka, my dearest, you have reproached me." His voice for the second and last time in his life trembled. The first time that his voice trembled it was from doubt arising from conjecturing his position; now it trembled from pleasure. "You have reproached me, but this reproach is dearer to me than all the words of love. I offended you with my question, but how happy I am that my bad question gave me, brought me, such a reproach. Look, there are tears in my eyes, the first tears that I have shed since I was a boy!"

The whole evening long he scarcely took his eyes from her, and she never once thought that he was making an effort to appear tender to her; and this evening was one of the happiest of her life, at least, up to the present time. Several years after the time of which I am now telling you about her, she will have a good many such days, months, years; this will be when her children shall have grown up, and she will find in them people worthy of happiness and sure of it. This pleasure is higher than all other individual pleasures; whatever may appear in any other personal pleasure is a rare and transitory loftiness; with her it is an ordinary, every-day level of happiness. But this is in the future which will come to her.


But after his wife had gone to sleep sitting on his knees, after he laid her down on her little sofa, Lopukhóf began to think seriously about her dream. It was not his affair whether she loved him or not; that was her concern, over which he had no control, and over which as he himself plainly saw, he had no control. This will settle itself; there is no need of thinking about it to-day; let time tell; but now there is no time for it; it is now his business to find out what is the cause of her foreboding that she does not love him.

For the first time he sat a long while in these thoughts; already for the last few days he has seen that he is not retaining her love for him. A great loss; but what could be done about it? If he could exchange his nature, acquire a tendency towards that gentle fondness which her nature demanded, then of course it would be a different thing. But he saw that such an attempt would be in vain. If the inclination is not given by nature, and if it is not developed by life independently of the man himself, this man cannot create it in himself by force of will, and without this tendency nothing can be done as it ought to be done. Consequently the question about him was already decided. His former thoughts had been spent in this very direction. But now that he had finished his own side of the case (like an egotist, who always thinks first about himself, and about others only when there is none of his own business left to think about), he was able to think for some one else; that is, to think about her. What can he do for her? She does not yet understand what is going on in her; she has not had such experience of her heart as he has; well, that's natural; he is four years older than she is; at the beginning of youth four years is a long time. Can't he, who is more experienced, analyze what she is unable to analyze? How, then, to interpret her dream?

A supposition quickly presented itself to Lopukhóf; the cause of her thoughts may be found in the circumstance which gave rise to her dream. In the motive to her dream may lie the connection with its tenor. She said that she felt bored because she did not go to the opera. Lopukhóf began to examine his way and her way of living, and gradually everything appeared before him in its true light. The larger part of the time not occupied by her duties she used to spend, as he did, in solitude. Then a change began; she began to be always ready for amusement. Now once more their old way had been re-established. She cannot accept indifferently this renewal of their old mode of life; it was not in her nature, just as it would not be in the nature of the great majority of people. There is nothing mysterious about it. And from this it was a very short step to the supposition that the explanation of everything was her close relationship to Kirsánof and then Kirsánof's estrangement. Why does Kirsánof stay away? The reason seemed sufficient in itself: his lack of time and multiplicity of occupations. But an honest and intellectual man, who has had experience in life, and who is particularly able to put in practice the theory of which Lopukhóf was an advocate, it is impossible to deceive by any tricks or cunningness. He may be deceived through lack of attention; he may not pay any attention to the fact itself; thus Lopukhóf was deceived the first time when Kirsánof deserted them; at that time, to tell the plain truth, there was no reason and consequently no desire energetically to investigate the reason why Kirsánof became estranged. The only important thing for him was to see whether he were not the cause for the severance of the friendship; it was plain that he was not, and so there was no cause for thinking of anything else; he was not Kirsánof's uncle and not his pedagogue, bound to lead in the paths of virtue the steps of a man who understands things as clearly as he does. Yes, and what necessity is there in reality for him to do so? Was there in his relations with Kirsánof anything particularly important for him? As long as you are friendly and you want me to like you, I am very willing; no, on the contrary, I am very sorry, but go wherever you please. Isn't it all the same to me? Whether there is one stupid fellow, more or less, in the world makes no difference to me. I took the stupid fellow to be a fine man; I am sorry, and that's all. If our interests are not connected with the actions of a person, his actions in reality interest us but little, if we are serious people, except in two cases, which, however, seem exceptions to the general rule only for those people who are accustomed to understand the word "interest" in the too narrow sense of every day's interpretation. The first case is where these actions are interesting for us from a theoretical standpoint, as psychological phenomena explaining the nature of a person, that is, if they have in them an intellectual interest: the other case is where the fate of a person depends upon us. Here we should be to blame in our own eyes for inattention to his actions; that is, if we take a conscientious interest in them. But in those former stupid actions of Kirsánof there was nothing that would not be known to Lopukhóf as a very ordinary peculiarity among people of the present day. There was nothing rare in a person having gentlemanly instincts giving himself over to triviality, resulting from the present state of things. And that Lopukhóf was destined to play an important part in Kirsánof's fate was beyond Lopukhóf's power of imagination. Why should Kirsánof be in need of his interference? Consequently, "Go ahead, my friend! go wherever you please without regarding me. What need have I of troubling about you?"

But now it is different. Kirsánof's actions suddenly seem to have an important bearing on the interests of a woman whom Lopukhóf loved. He could not refrain from thinking carefully about them. But to think carefully about a fact and understand its causes is almost one and the same thing for a person of such a turn of mind as Lopukhóf. Lopukhóf found that his theory affords unerring means for analyzing the motions of the human heart, and I confess I agree with him in this respect. In those long years since I have accepted it as true, it has never once led me into error, and it has never refused to reveal the truth to me, no matter how deep the truth, in regard to some human action, might have been hidden. It is also true that the theory itself is not easily acquired; it is necessary to have lived and thought to be able to understand it.

Half an hour's thinking was sufficient for Lopukhóf to understand the relations of Kirsánof to Viéra Pavlovna. But still he sat long thinking about the same thing; further explanation was needless, but it was interesting; the discovery was made with complete fulness of details, but it was so interesting that long he refrained from going to sleep.

However, what is the good of straining your nerves with sleeplessness? It is already three o'clock. "If I can't fall asleep, I shall have to take morphine." He took two pills. "I will just look at Viérotcha once more." But instead of walking over to her and looking at her, he removed his chair over to her sofa, took her hand and kissed it.

"Mílenki, you have been working too hard, and all for my sake; how kind you are, and how I love you!" said she, half asleep. No shipwreck of the spirit can resist morphine in sufficient quantity; at this time, two pills proved to be enough; he is overcome by sleep. Consequently, the shipwreck of the soul by itself is approximately equal, according to Lopukhóf's materialistic views, to four glasses of strong coffee, to overcome, which one pill would not have been enough in Lopukhóf's case; but three pills would have been too much. He fell asleep laughing at this comparison.



On the following day, Kirsánof had just thrown himself down like a sybarite, with a cigar, intending to read and rest after his late dinner upon returning from the hospital, when Lopukhóf came in.

"A guest at the wrong time is worse than a Tartar," said Lopukhóf, in a jocular tone; but his tone proved not to be very successfully jocular. "I disturb you, Aleksandr; but even if it is so, you must put up with it. I want to speak to you seriously. I meant to have come earlier, but I overslept this morning, and I should not have found you." Lopukhóf was now speaking without joking.

"What does it mean? Has he really suspected?" wondered Kirsánof.

"Let us have a little talk," continued Lopukhóf, seating himself. "Look me in the eye."

"Yes, he is going to speak about it; there is no doubt about it."

"Listen, Dmitri," said Kirsánof, in a tone still more serious. "You and I are friends; but there are things which even friends must not allow themselves. I beg of you to cease this conversation. I am not inclined now to serious conversations, and I am never ready for it." Kirsánof's eyes looked keenly and angrily, as though a man were before him whom he suspected of committing a murder.

"It is impossible not to speak, Aleksandr," continued Lopukhóf, in a calm, but rather dull voice. "I have understood your manœuvres."

"Silence! I forbid you to speak, unless you want me to be your enemy forever,—if you don't want to lose my respect."

"Some time ago, you were not afraid of losing my respect; do you remember? Now I understand all. I did not understand it then."

"Dmitri, I beg of you to leave the room, or I shall."

"You cannot leave. What do you suppose,—that I do not have your interests at heart?"

Kirsánof did not reply.

"My situation is a good one. Yours, judging by your words, is not. I appear to you in the guise of a man doing a noble deed. But that's nonsense. I cannot act otherwise, according to common sense. I beg of you, Aleksandr, to cease your manœuvres; they will lead to nothing."

"How? was it really too late? Forgive me," cried Kirsánof, impetuously; and he could not decide whether it was joy or grief excited in him by the words, "they will lead to nothing."

"No; you have not understood me. It was not too late. So far there has been no harm done; we shall see whether there will be. But now there is nothing to be seen. However, Aleksandr, I do not understand what you are speaking about; neither do you understand what I mean. We do not understand each other; isn't that so? There is not any need of our understanding each other, is there? These are little enigmas which you do not understand; they are unpleasant. There was nothing of the sort; I have not said anything. I have nothing to say to you. Give me a cigar; I forgot mine. I'm forgetful. I am going to smoke and have a talk with you about scientific questions; that was all that I came for. I wanted to spend a little time in scientific talk, as I had nothing else to do. What do you think about these strange experiments on the mechanical production of albumen?" Lopukhóf moved from one chair to another, so as to have a comfortable place for his feet; he got into an easy position, and while he smoked his cigar he continued what he had to say. "According to my view it is a great discovery. Have you repeated the experiments?"

"No; but I shall have to."

"How fortunate you are to have such a splendid laboratory at your disposal. I beg of you, try them for yourself; try them more carefully. A complete revolution of the whole question of food, and of all human life—the artificial production of the principal element of nutrition, directly from inorganic matter. It is a most extraordinary thing; it is equal to Newton's discovery. Don't you think so?"

"Certainly. Only I greatly doubt the accuracy of the experiments. Sooner or later we shall reach this without doubt; science is going on in that direction, that is evident. But now we have hardly come to it."

"Do you think so? I think so myself. Then our conversation is ended. Good by, Aleksandr. But while I say good by, I will ask you to call on us often, just as you used to do. Dō svidánya."

Kirsánof's eyes, which all the time had been looking fiercely and steadily at Lopukhóf, flashed with indignation. "It seems to me, Dmitri, that you want me to get the opinion that you have low thoughts."

"I don't want anything of the sort. But you must come to see us. There is nothing strange in that, is there? You and I are friends. What is there strange in my request?"

"I cannot. You are beginning a foolish piece of work, and, therefore, wretched."

"I do not understand what you mean. And I must tell you that what you say does not please me at all; just as two minutes ago what I said did not please you."

"I demand an explanation, Dmitri."

"There's none to give. There is nothing, and there is nothing to explain, and there is nothing to understand. You are getting excited over mere nothing."

"No, I cannot let you go so." Kirsánof took Lopukhóf by the arm as he started to leave. "Sit down; you began to speak when it was not necessary. You don't realize what you ask of me. You must hear me now to the end."

Lopukhóf sat down.

"What right have you"—Kirsánof began in a voice of greater indignation than before—"what right have you to ask of me what is hard for me? Is there anything that I owe you? What does this mean? It's absurd. Try to clear your brain of romantic nonsense. Whatever you and I regard as a normal life will come to be so, only after the ideas of general society have entirely changed. There must be absolute reorganization, that is true. It will be reorganized according as life is developed. Whoever gets the new training, helps others, that is true. But until this new education is accomplished, as long as things are not completely changed, you have no right to risk the happiness of another. This is a horrible thing; do you understand it, or have you lost your senses?"

"No; I do not understand anything at all, Aleksandr. I do not know what you are talking about. You are pleased to see a wonderful design in the simple request of a friend, not to forget him, because he likes to see you at his house. I don't understand why you need to get excited about it."

"No, Dmitri; in such talk you will not get rid of me with a jest. I must show you that you are crazy, in thinking about such a miserable piece of work. There are a good many things that you and I don't acknowledge, aren't there? We don't acknowledge that a box on the ear carries with it something dishonorable; it is a stupid prejudice, a harmful prejudice, and nothing more. But have you the right now to subject a man to the risk of getting a boxing? That would be on your part, a mean, low abomination, for you would have taken away from a man the peace of his life. Do you understand what I mean, stupid? Do you understand that if I love this person, and you ask me to give him a box in the ear, which, according to my ideas and yours, is a trifle,—do you understand that if you asked me to do this, I should consider you a fool and a low fellow; and if you compelled me to do it, I should kill either you or myself, according to whose life were the less desirable—I would kill either you or myself, but I would not do this. Do you understand this, you stupid fellow? I am speaking about a man and a slap, which is a trifle, but which takes away the peace of life from a man. Besides men, there are in this world women, who are also human beings; besides slaps, there are other kinds of trifles, which, according to your idea and mine, and which are really trifles, but which also deprive people of the peace of life. Do you understand that to subject any person, even though it be a woman, to any such thing, which, according to your opinion and mine, and in reality are trifles,—well, to do any such thing, it does not matter what,—do you understand, that to subject any one to such a thing, is mean, contemptible, dishonest? Do you hear me? I say that you have dishonorable thoughts."

"My friend, you speak the exact truth about what is honorable and dishonorable; only I do not know what you are saying these things for, and I do not understand what relation it may have to me. I have not told you anything at all, nor have I said anything about any intention of risking the peace of life of anybody in the world! nothing of the kind! You are indulging in fancies, and that's all there is of it. I ask of you, my friend, not to forget me, because it is agreeable to me, as your friend, to spend time with you, and that's all. Will you fulfil your friend's request?"

"It is dishonorable, I told you, and I don't act dishonorably."

"It is very praiseworthy of you that you don't; but you got angry over some fancy or other, and you dashed off into theory. You apparently wanted to theorize without any reason, without any applicability to what we were talking about. Now I also am going to theorize, also absolutely without any direct intention, I will ask you a question that has no relation, whatever to anything except the explanation of an abstract truth, without any application to any one in particular. If any one without any distaste to himself can afford to give another pleasure, then common sense, according to my view, demands that he give it to him, because he himself will get pleasure from it; isn't that so?"

"That's nonsense, Dmitri! You are off the point."

"I am not saying anything, Aleksandr; I am only indulging myself in theoretical speculations. Here is still another: If any desire, whatsoever, is awakened for anything, does our attempt to stifle this desire ever lead to anything good? Is not that so? No, such an attempt would lead to no good. It leads only to the necessity increasing threefold; it becomes injurious or takes a false direction; it is both harmful and miserable, or if the desire is stifled also, life is stifled; that is pitiful."

"That is not the point, Dmitri. I am going to put your theoretical problem in another form: Has anybody a right to subject a person to a risk, if that person's life is happy without that risk? There will come a time when all the demands of every man's nature will be fully satisfied, that you and I know; but we both know equally well that this time has not yet come. Now a reasonable man is satisfied if he has enough to live upon, even though parts of his nature are not satisfied with the position in which he is satisfied to live. I shall suppose, by the way of abstract hypothesis, that such a fortunate man is in existence. I shall suppose that this person is a woman; I shall suppose again, in the way of an abstract hypothesis, that the position in which she is satisfied to live is married life. I will suppose that she is satisfied with her position, and I say: given such facts according to this abstract hypothesis, who has a right to run the risk of destroying what is good, what she is satisfied with, in order to try to give this person something better, which she can easily manage to get along without. There will be a golden age; we know that it is coming, but it is far in the future. The age of iron is almost gone, but the golden age has not yet made its appearance. If according to my abstract hypothesis, some strong demand of this person, let us suppose—since it is only for an example, let us suppose, love—the necessity of love were not entirely satisfied or were ill satisfied, I would not say anything against the danger run by the person, but only against such danger itself, and not against the danger brought upon him by somebody else. And if this person finds perfect satisfaction after all for his demand, then he himself must not run the risk. Now I will say abstractly that he does not want to run the risk, and I will say further, he is right and sensible because he does not want to run the risk; and I say, mean and contemptible is the man who would subject to the risk the one who does not want to run the risk. What can you say against this hypothetical result? Nothing! Understand, then, that you have no right."

"If I had been in your place, Aleksandr, I should have answered in the same way; I, like you, am speaking only in parables; I will imagine that you have a personal interest in this question. I know of course that it does not concern any one of us; we are speaking only as scientific men about certain interesting sides of universal scientific principles, which seem to us right; according to these views, everybody judges about every case from his own standpoint, which is formed by his individual relations to the thing. I only say in this sense of the word, that if I were in your place I should have spoken as you have, and you in my place would have said exactly what I have said. From the general scientific standpoint, this is an undisputable truth. A in B's place is B; if A were not B when in B's place, then he would not be in B's place; he would somehow fail to be in B's place; isn't it so? Consequently you have nothing to say against this, just as I had nothing to say against what you said. But according to your example I will establish my hypothesis, which is also abstract, and which also has no application to anybody. Let us suppose that there are three people in existence—a supposition which contains nothing impossible; let us suppose that one of them has a secret which he would like to keep from the second, and particularly from the third; let us suppose that the second finds out the secret of the third, and says to him: Do as I tell you, else I shall expose your secret to the third. What do you think about this matter?"

Kirsánof grew rather pale and for a long time twisted his mustache. "Dmitri, you behave shamefully towards me," he said at last.

"Have I any special necessity upon me to act well toward you? what interest do I take in you? And besides, I do not understand what you are talking about. You and I have been speaking as two scientific men speak among themselves. We offered each other various scientific hypotheses; at last I succeeded in offering one which brought you to terms, and my scientific self-respect is satisfied. And therefore I shall cease this theoretical conversation. I have a great deal of work to do, not less than you have, and so dō svidánya. By the way, I had almost forgotten; Aleksandr will you fulfil my request to come and see us; we are good friends, you know; and we shall be always glad to see you. Come just as you used to these last few months."

Lopukhóf got up. Kirsánof was sitting, looking at his fingers as though each one were a abstract hypothesis. "You are acting cruelly towards me, Dmitri. I cannot help fulfilling your request. But in my turn I shall impose one condition; I will come to see you; but if I leave your house not by myself, you must also go everywhere that I go, and I must have no necessity of asking you. Do you hear? You yourself, of your own free will, without my asking you. Without you I shall not take a step; not to the opera, not to call on friends or go anywhere."

"Oughtn't that condition to be offensive to me Aleksandr? Do you think I look upon you as a thief?"

"I didn't speak in that sense of the word. I would not bring such an affront upon you as to think that you could take me for a thief. I would give my life into your hands without any hesitation. I hope I have a right to expect this from you also. But what I mean is for me to know. You do what I say, and that's all."

"Now I too know. Yes, you have done a great deal in this respect; you want now to guard against this even more solicitously. Well, in this respect you are in the right. Yes, you have a right to compel me. But no matter how thankful I am to you, my friend, this will amount to nothing. I myself tried to compel myself; I too have a will as well as you, and my scheme has been as clever as yours. But whatever is done through calculation, through a feeling of duty, by strength of will, and not by the drawing of nature, results lifelessly. Only to kill a thing is possible through these means, just as you have been doing with yourself, but to make a living thing is impossible."

Lopukhóf had become sentimental over Kirsánof's words, "what I mean is for me to know." "Thank you, my friend. And since we have never kissed each other, maybe we have a desire to now?"

If Lopukhóf had examined his actions during this conversation, as a theorist, he would have noticed with satisfaction: "How true the theory is, Egotism makes sport of men. Now here the most important thing he entirely suppressed: 'Let us suppose that this person is satisfied with his situation.' Now when that was said, he ought to have replied: 'Aleksandr, your supposition is not true.' But I held my peace because it was not to my advantage to say it. It is pleasant for a man, as a theorist, to notice what tricks his egotism plays with him in practical life. You are retreating from the battle because the battle is lost for you, but egotism turns your gestures so that you are playing the man who is doing noble actions."

Had Kirsánof examined his actions during this conversation, as a theorist, he would have noticed with pleasure "How true this theory is. I wanted to preserve my own peace, to rest upon my laurels, and here I was saying, 'You have no right to risk a woman's peace of mind'; and this means—be sure you yourself understand it—that I actually have done a noble action to my own detriment, for the sake of another's peace, and for your sake, my friend, and therefore fall on your knees before the grandeur of my soul! It is pleasant for a man, as a theorist, to notice what tricks his egotism plays with him in practical life. He retreated from the battle so as not to be a fool, and gained glory because he had accomplished a heroic action of magnanimous nobility. You did not yield to the demand at the first word, so that you might not be troubled again about yourself, so that you might not be deprived of the sweet triumph in your nobility; but egotism turns your actions so that you are playing the man who presses forward into noble endeavor."

But neither Lopukhóf nor Kirsánof had time to examine their actions as theorists, or to make these pleasant observations; and the practical solution of the question seemed to both pretty hard.


The renewal of Kirsánof's frequent visits could be explained very naturally; five months he had been interrupted in his occupations, and he had accumulated a great deal of work; and so it took him a month and a half to sit down at it, not straightening his back. Now he had finished his neglected work, and he was more at liberty in the use of his time. This was so clear that there was hardly any need of explaining it.

In fact, it was plain and all right, and did not arouse any suspicion in Viéra Pavlovna's mind. And on the other hand, Kirsánof played his part with the same undoubted artistic skill as before. He was afraid that, when he called at the Lopukhófs', after his scientific conversation with his friend, he would "lose his grip";[15] he would either blush from excitement at seeing Viéra Pavlovna for the first time, or would very noticeably avoid looking at her, or do something of the kind. But, no, he stood firm, and he had full right to feel satisfied from the moment that he met her; a pleasant, friendly smile, such as is natural in a person who is glad to get back among old friends, from whom he had been obliged to be absent for some time; a calm glance, a frank and unconcerned flow of speech, such as is natural to a person who has no other thoughts in his mind, beyond those he fearlessly speaks. If you had been the most ill-tempered, gossiping old woman, on the lookout to find something out of the way, you could not have found in him anything, except a man who seems very glad that he can pleasantly kill a leisure evening in the society of his good friends.

And if the first moment was so well accomplished, what prevented him from spending the rest of the evening just as well? And if he succeeded in spending the first evening so well, then was it hard for him to spend the evenings to come in the same way? Not a single word which was not free and natural, not one look which was not hearty and simple, straightforward, and friendly, and that was all there was of it.

But if he behaved himself no worse than of old, yet the eyes which were bent upon him were inclined to notice every action which no other eyes would have perceived. Yes; no other eyes would have seen anything. Lopukhóf himself, whom Marya Alekséyevna acknowledged to be born for a monopolist, was surprised at the self-possession which did not for one moment desert Kirsánof, and as a theorist, he derived great pleasure from such observations, contrary to the will of those who interested him by the psychological peculiarity of this phenomenon viewed from a scientific standpoint. But the "visitor" did not prophecy in vain when she compelled Viéra Pavlovna to read her diary. Eyes become too sharp, when such a "visitor" whispers in your ear.

But even these eyes could see nothing; but still the "visitor" whispered, "Is it impossible to find something here, even though there is nothing to be seen, as I myself perceive? but still we will try to see"; and the eyes tried to peer, and though they saw nothing, yet the very fact that the eyes tried to see was sufficient for them to observe that there was something peculiar.

Here, for instance, Viéra Pavlovna is going with her husband and Kirsánof to their regular weekly evening, which happens to be at the Mertsálofs'. Why doesn't Kirsánof waltz at this unceremonious party, when even Lopukhóf waltzes, because a general rule has been made: If you are an old man of threescore years and ten, and have found your way hither, then you must play the fool, together with the others; for here nobody looks at anybody else, everybody has one and the same idea about it,—"the more noise, the more stir, the better"; and that is equivalent to saying, the more enjoyment for all. Then, why does not Kirsánof waltz? Well, he has begun to waltz; but why did it take him several minutes to make up his mind? Was it worth while to spend several minutes in thinking whether to begin or not to begin such a very important matter? If he had not waltzed, the thing would have been half revealed here. If he had waltzed, but had not waltzed with Viéra Pavlovna, the thing would have been completely revealed here. But he was too clever an artist in his part. He did not want to waltz with Viéra Pavlovna, but he soon perceived that this would be noticed, and so, after a short hesitation, which apparently bore no relation to Viéra Pavlovna or anybody else in the world, he asked her to dance. There remained in her memory a slight, a very slight, wonderment, which in itself she would have not noticed, notwithstanding the whisper of the "visitor-songstress," had not the "visitor" whispered a numberless quantity of just such little, insignificant questions.

Why, for instance, after they returned from the Mertsálofs', when they make an appointment to go to the opera, "I Puratani," on the next evening, and when Viéra Pavlovna said to her husband, "Mílenki, you don't like this opera, you will be bored. I will go with Aleksandr Matvéitch, for he likes all the operas; and I believe that if you or I had written an opera, he would like it!" why didn't Kirsánof uphold Viéra Pavlovna's suggestion, and say, "Really, Dmitri, I am not going to get a ticket for you"; why was this? The fact that mílenki goes along also, this by itself would not have aroused any wonderment; for he escorts his wife everywhere, since she had once asked him to. "Devote more time to me," she said. Since that time he had never forgotten it; consequently, there is nothing strange in his going with her: it simply shows always one and the same thing,—that he is kind and complaisant, that she ought to love him. That is true; but Kirsánof does not know this reason, and so why doesn't he support Viéra Pavlovna in her suggestion? Of course these trifles are almost unnoticeable, and Viéra Pavlovna scarcely gives them a passing thought; but these unnoticeable little grains of sand keep falling on the pan of the scales, though they were almost invisible. For example, a conversation like the following is not a little grain of sand, but a small pebble.

On the next day, as they were going to the opera in an izvoshchik's carriage (this was less expensive than two izvoshchiks), among other things they said several words about the Mertsálofs, where they had been the evening before. They praised their harmonious life; they remarked that this was a rare thing; they all said this, including Kirsánof, who added, "Yes, this alone is a good thing in Mertsálof, that his wife dares tell him all the secrets of her soul." That was all that Kirsánof said, and each one of the three thought of saying the same thing; but it happened that Kirsánof alone said it. But why did he say it? What does it signify? if it contained an insinuation, what could it mean? It would be in praise of Lopukhóf; it would be in favor of Viéra Pavlovna's happiness with Lopukhóf. Of course, this could have been said with reference to no one else except the Mertsálofs; and if it could be supposed that he thought of the Lopukhófs together with the Mertsálofs, then, of course, it would show that it was directly for Viéra Pavlovna; but what was his purpose in saying it?

It always happens so that if a person has an inclination to look for something, he everywhere finds what he is looking for; even let there be not the slightest sign of it, still he sees the sign manifestly; let there be no shadow, but he not only finds the shadow of what he expects to find, but the whole substance of what he is looking for, with the most unmistakable features, and these features at every fresh thought become more clear.

And here, besides everything else, there was really a very substantial fact, which hid in itself a very complete solution of the matter. It is clear that Kirsánof respects the Lopukhófs; then why did he keep aloof from them for more than two years? It is clear that he is a thorough gentleman; how did it happen that he appeared before them in the character of a boor? As long as Viéra Pavlovna was not called upon to think about this, she did not think about it any more than Lopukhóf had done; but now she thinks about it in spite of herself.


Slowly, unobservably, this discovery began to evolve itself in her mind. All the time there accumulated small, almost undistinguishable, impressions made by Kirsánof's words and actions, to which no one else would have given any heed, which she herself scarcely noticed, for they were only supposed and suspected. Slowly this question, "Why did he avoid them almost three years?" began to interest her mind. Slowly the idea was confirmed that such a man could not have stayed away from any petty grounds of self-conceit, because he is absolutely free from it. And, moreover, not knowing why she thought of this, still more obscurely and slowly arose from the silent depths of her life into her consciousness, the question, "Why am I thinking about him? What is he to me?"

And here, one time after dinner, Viéra Pavlovna was sitting in her room, sewing and thinking, and she was thinking very calmly, and she was not thinking at all of him, but of something quite different, connected with her household, and about the shop and about her teaching, and gradually, gradually, her thoughts were drawn to the matter concerning which, without being conscious of it, her thoughts were more and more often drawn. There came up recollections, little questions began to present themselves; they multiplied, and here they are in thousands, finding place in her thoughts; and still they grow and grow, and they go to form one question, the form of which becomes clearer and clearer. "What has got into me? what am I thinking about? what am I feeling?" and Viéra Pavlovna's fingers forget to sew, and the sewing slips from her drooping hands, and Viéra Pavlovna grew a shade paler, then she blushed; she grew still paler, then the fire touched her flushed cheeks. The next moment they were white as snow, and with wandering eyes she ran in to her husband, sat herself on his knees, tremblingly threw her arms around his neck, laid her head on his shoulder, so that it might support her head and hide her face, and with choking voice she said, "My dear, I love him," and she began to weep.

"What of that, my dear? Why should you feel disturbed about it?"

"I do not want to offend you, my dear; I want to love you."

"Try. Look here: if you can, it will be well. Be calm; give time a chance, and you will see what you can do, and what you cannot do. You are so dear to me; how, then, can you offend me?"

He smoothed her hair, kissed her head, pressed her hand. She could not for a long time cease her convulsive weeping; but gradually she became calm. But he who had for a long time expected such a confession, was therefore able to take it coolly. However, even yet she could not bear to look at his face.

"I do not want to see him; I shall tell him to cease coming to see us," said Viéra Pavlovna.

"You must act, my love, in the way which you find will give you the greatest happiness. And when you have become calmer, we will talk the matter over; for you and I, no matter what may happen between us, will always be friends, won't we? Give me your hand; press mine. You see how warmly you press it."

Every one of these phrases were spoken at long intervals, and the intervals were filled by his smoothing her hair, fondling her, as a brother fondles a grieved sister.

"Do you remember, my dear, what you told me when we became engaged? 'You are leading me into freedom.'"—Again silence and caresses. "Do you remember how you and I talked the first time about what it means to love a person? It means to feel gladness at whatever is good for that person, to feel pleasure in doing whatever may be to his advantage."—Again silence and caresses—"Whatever is for your best good gives me joy also; but you must decide what is best for you. Why should you be grieved? If it brings you no misfortune, what misfortune can it bring me?"

In these laconic words, which were repeated a good many times, with the ordinary insignificant variations of repetition, passed considerable time, which was equally trying for Lopukhóf and Viéra Pavlovna. But while gradually getting calmer, Viéra Pavlovna began at last to breathe more freely. She embraced her husband tightly, and she kept repeating, "I want to love thee, my dear,[16] thee alone; I want to love no one else besides thee."

He did not tell her that this was beyond her power; it was necessary to let the time pass until her strength could be restored by calmness, giving her some sort of decision, no matter what. Lopukhóf succeeded in writing a note for Masha to give Kirsánof in case he should come: "Aleksandr, don't come in just now, and don't come for some time; there is no particular reason, and there will be no particular reason; it is only necessary for her to rest."

"It is necessary for her to rest; there is no particular reason." A strange juxtaposition of contraries! Kirsánof read over the note, and told Masha that he only came to get it, and that he had no time now to stop in; that he had another place to go to; that he would stop on his way back, after he had done the errand which the note demanded.

The evening passed peacefully according to all appearances. Half the time Viéra Pavlovna sat quietly by herself in her room, without letting her husband stay; the other half of the time he sat near her, trying to calm her with the same laconic words, and of course, not so much by his words as by his voice, which was steady and reassuring; of course not with God-knows-what happiness, and of course, also, not melancholy; except that there was an undertone of melancholy in it, which was shown in his face. Viéra Pavlovna, after hearing such sounds, and looking at such an expression of face, began to think, not absolutely, but to a degree; no, not to a degree, but almost absolutely, that her fears had been overestimated; that she had mistaken for a great passion a mere imagination, which would vanish in a few days, without leaving any trace; or, she thought—she did think it, only she felt that it was not so: "No, this is not so; no, it is so"; or she firmly thinks that she thinks so: and she really thinks that it is so; and how can she help thinking so, while she listens to this calm, steady voice, which keeps repeating that there is nothing to be worried about. Peacefully she fell asleep under the influence of this voice; she slept soundly, and she did not dream of the "visitor," and she woke up late, and after she woke up she felt renewed strength.


"The best distraction for thoughts is work," said Viéra Pavlovna to herself, and she was entirely right. "I shall spend every day in the shop until I am cured, and this will help me." She began to spend the whole day in the shop. The first day she really succeeded in greatly distracting her thoughts; the second day she only tired herself out, but she could not entirely escape from them; on the third she could not get rid of them at all. Thus passed a week.

The struggle was hard. Viéra Pavlovna's face grew pale, but, by outward appearances, she was entirely calm; she even tried to seem happy, and in this respect she succeeded almost without interruption. But if no one could notice anything, and her paleness were ascribed to some slight ailment, yet Lopukhóf was not deceived; he knew perfectly well how it was; he had no need to look.

"Viérotchka," he began at the end of a week, "as we are living now, we carry out the old proverb that the cobbler has no boots, and the tailor's clothes don't fit him. We are teaching others to live according to our economical principles, but we, ourselves, don't take it into our heads to arrange our own lives in accordance with them. Isn't one large household more advantageous than several small ones? I should like to apply this law to our own housekeeping arrangements. If we had lived with somebody, we, and those who lived with us, would have saved almost half of our expenses. I should be able to give up those execrable lessons, which I detest so; my salary from the factory would be enough, and I should get time for relaxation. I could occupy my time with scientific work, and thus have taken up my career again. It is only necessary to find people such as it would be agreeable to live with. What do you think about this?"

Viéra Pavlovna had been looking at her husband with eyes full of suspicion, and burning with indignation just as Kirsánof had looked at him on the day of their theoretical conversation. After he stopped speaking, her face was on fire.

"I beg of you to cease this conversation; it is not becoming."

"Why so, Viérotchka? I am only speaking about pecuniary advantages; such people as you and I, who are not rich, must not neglect them. My work is hard, and a part of it is even detestable to me."

"You have no right to speak so to me." Viéra Pavlovna got up. "I shall not allow you to speak to me in dark words. Dare to speak freely what you mean!"

"I only want to tell you this, Viérotchka: that taking into consideration our advantage, it would be good for us."

"Again, silence! Who gave you the right to be master over me? I shall despise you!" She ran quickly to her own room and locked the door.

This was their first and their last quarrel.

Till late that night Viéra Pavlovna sat with her door locked; then she returned to her husband's room.

"My dear,[17] I spoke to you very severe words, but do not be angry at them. You see that I am doing my best; instead of helping me, you began to help along what I am struggling against, hoping,—yes, hoping—to win the victory."

"Forgive me, my love,[18] for beginning so roughly, but now we are reconciled, aren't we? Let us talk reasonably."

"Oh, yes, we are reconciled, my dear. Only don't act against me. It is hard enough, even as it is, to struggle against myself."

"And it is useless, Viérotchka; you have had plenty of time to examine your feeling: you have seen that it is more serious than you believed at first. Why torment yourself?"

"No, my dear,[17] I want to love you, and I do not want to wrong you."

"My dear,[17] you wish me to be happy. What! do you think that it is pleasant for me to see you keep tormenting yourself?"

"My dear,"[17] but you love me so!"

"Of course I do, very dearly: there is no need of saying that; but we both understand what love means: does it not consist in the fact that you are happy in the happiness, that you suffer with the suffering, of the one whom you love. When you torment yourself, you torment me."

"So it is, my dear;[17] but you will suffer if I yield to this feeling, which—akh! I cannot understand why it should have come to me; I curse it!"

"It makes no difference how or why it came to you; you cannot help it. Now there is only one choice: either you should suffer, and I suffer also through it, or that you cease to suffer, and I too."

"But, my dear,[19] I am not going to suffer; this will pass away; you will see this pass."

"Thank you for your efforts; I appreciate them, because you show a will to fulfil what you deem your duty. But know, Viérotchka, that it seems necessary only to you, and not to me. I am looking upon it as a stranger; and your position is clearer to me than it is to yourself. I know that this will be useless. Struggle as long as your strength holds out, but don't think that you are going to wrong me. For you know how I look upon this; you know that my view of this matter cannot be shaken, and is founded in the nature of things: you know all this. Can you deceive me? Will you ever cease to respect me? I can say further: even if your disposition towards me changed its nature, will it grow weaker? Isn't the contrary true? would it not grow stronger from the very fact that you did not find in me an enemy? Don't pity me; my fate will not be in the least pitiful because you will not be deprived of happiness on my account. But that's enough. It is hard to say much about it, and for you to hear is harder still. Only remember, Viérotchka, what I am saying now. Forgive me, Viérotchka. Go to your room and think it over, or, rather, go to sleep. Don't think about me, but think about yourself. Only by thinking about yourself, you may not cause me useless sorrow."


At the end of two weeks, while Lopukhóf was sitting in the counting-room of his factory, Viéra Pavlovna was spending the whole morning in extraordinary excitement. She threw herself down on her bed, she covered her face with her hands; and at the end of a quarter of an hour she jumped up, walked up and down the room, threw herself into one chair after another, and again walked with quick, unsteady steps, and then again threw herself on her bed, and then walked again; and several times she went to the writing-desk, and stood by it, and turned away, and finally she sat down, wrote a few words, sealed her note. Then, in half an hour, she seized the note, tore it up, burned it, and again she walked about excitedly. She wrote a second letter; this, also, she tore up and burned. Again she walked up and down, and again she wrote, and hastily, scarcely stopping to seal it; not giving herself time to write the address, she ran off with it to her husband's room, threw it on the table, and hurried back to her own room, fell into a chair, and sat motionless, hiding her face in her hands, half an hour, possibly an hour. There is the sound of the bell; it is he. She ran into the library to seize the letter, to tear it up, to burn it,—but where is it? It is not there! where is it? She hastily looked over the papers; where is it? But Masha is already opening the door, and Lopukhóf saw from the threshold how Viéra Pavlovna flashed out from his library into her own room, excited and pale.

He did not follow her, but went straight into his library; coolly, at his leisure, he examined the table and the space behind the table. Yes; he had been expecting for some days some such thing, either in the way of words or note. Nu, here it is, a letter without address, but her seal; nu, she must have been looking for it, so as to destroy it, or she may have just thrown it down. No, she must have been looking for it; the papers are in disorder. But how could she find it, while in throwing it down she had been in such a flurry of excitement that, in being thrown impetuously down, like a coal burning the hand, it slid across the whole width of the table, and fell on the window behind the table? There is hardly need of reading it; the contents are what he expects. However, it is impossible not to read it.

"My dear,[20] never was I so strongly attached to thee as I am now. If I could only die for thy sake! Oh, how happy I would be to die, if it would only make thee happier! but I cannot live without him. I wrong thee, my dear; I am killing thee, my dear.[21] I do not want to do so; I am acting contrary to my will. Forgive me! forgive me!"

For quarter of an hour, maybe more, Lopukhóf stood before the table, looking attentively down at the arm of the chair. Though it was a shock foreseen, still it was painful; though he had thought it all over, and decided what should be done, and how it was necessary to act, in case such a letter or confession came, still he could not at once collect his thoughts. But at last he collected them. He went into the kitchen to give an order to Masha.

"Masha, you will please not set the table until I tell you. I am not quite well, and I must take some medicine before dinner. But don't you wait; eat your dinner, and don't hurry: you will have plenty of time before I shall want mine. I will tell when."

From the kitchen he went to see his wife. She was lying down, hiding her face in the pillows; when he entered, she shuddered:—

"You found it, you read it! bozhe moï! how crazy I am! It is not true—what I wrote! it was fever!"

"Of course, my dear;[22] your words must not be taken seriously, because you were too much excited. These things are not so easily decided. We shall have time to talk this matter over more than once, calmly, rationally, because it is a very important matter for us. And, meanwhile, my dear,[22] I want to tell you something about my affairs. I have succeeded in making a good many changes in them,—everything that was needed; and I am very well content. Are you listening?"

Of course she did not herself know whether she was listening or not; she could only have said, however it was, whether she heard or not, that she heard something, but she was very far from understanding what she heard; however, something she did hear, and something could be drawn from what she heard, that something was being done about something, and that it had no connection with her letter; and gradually she began to listen, because her mind was led to it. Her nerves wanted to occupy themselves with something, not with the letter; and though it was long before she could understand what he was driving at, yet she was reassured by the cool and contented tone of her husband's voice, and gradually she began to understand.

"Do listen! because it is about a very important matter for me." Her husband kept repeating each question, "Do you hear?"—"Yes, very pleasant changes for me"—and he begins to tell her the whole story in detail. She realizes three-quarters of what he is telling her,—no, she knows it all; but it is all the same to her: "Let him speak! How kind he is!" And he keeps on with his story: that he has been tired of giving private lessons this long time, and why, or in what family, and of what special pupils he is tired, and how he is not tired of his occupation in the counting-room of the factory, because it is important, and he has a great influence over all the factory-hands, and how he has succeeded in doing something there; how he has enabled those who desired to learn to read and write; how he has taught them how to learn their letters; how he has succeeded in getting from the firm a salary for the teachers, by proving that the workmen would in this way ruin less machinery and less work, because in this way there would be less idleness and drunken eyes,—of course it was a trifling salary; and how he keeps the working people from drinking, and in order to do this he has often been to their saloons,—and a great deal of the same sort of talk. But the principal thing was this, that he has made himself solid with the firm as an active, energetic man, and he has been gradually getting the business into his own control, so that the conclusion of his story and the main flavor of it for Lopukhóf consisted in this: he has accepted the place as acting manager of the factory. The nominal manager would be an honorary person from the firm itself, with an honorary salary, but the active manager would be Lopukhóf himself: the member of the firm accepted the position of nominal manager only on this condition: "I," says he, "cannot do it; how can I?"—"You take the name then, so that an honorable man may have it, and there will be no need for you to trouble yourself, for I will do everything."—"If that is the case, all right then; I will take the position." But the importance does not lie in his having the power, but in the fact that he is to have a salary of three thousand five hundred rubles—nearly a thousand rubles more than all taken together that he had received from his occasional hard literary work and from his pupils and from his former place in the factory; consequently he can give up everything now except the factory, and that is splendid. And all this takes more than half an hour to relate; and at the end of the story Viéra Pavlovna is able to say that it is really good, and she is able to arrange her hair and go to dinner.

And after dinner Masha gets eight silver kopeks for an izvoshchik, to take her in four different directions, to carry notes from Lopukhóf, saying, "I am at leisure, gentlemen, and I should be glad to have you come to see me." And some time later appears the terrible Rakhmétof, and after him, one by one, come a whole tribe of young people, and a formidable scientific conversation begins with immeasurable reproaches heaped up on each individual by all the rest with all possible inconsequentialities; but some traitors to this lofty discussion help Viéra Pavlovna somehow or other to kill the evening, and when half the evening is spent she guesses where Masha has been gone so long. How kind he is! Yes, this time Viéra Pavlovna had been absolutely glad on account of her young friends, though she did not get into a gale with them, but sat quietly, and she was ready to kiss even Rakhmétof himself.

The visitors went away towards three o'clock in the morning, and they did well in being so late. Viéra Pavlovna, weary from the excitement of the day, had only just lain down when her husband came in:—

"While telling you about the factory, my dear Viérotchka, I forgot to tell you one thing about my new place, and by the way, it is not very important, and I don't know as it is worth while to speak about it, but I will tell you some time; but I have one favor to ask: I want to sleep, so do you; so if I do not tell you the rest of the story now, we will speak about it to-morrow; and now I will tell you in two words. You see when I took the place of acting manager I agreed upon this condition: that I can take the place any time that I want, within a month or two; and now I want to avail myself of this time: I have not seen my old folks in Riazan for five years. I am going to make them a visit. Good night,[23] Viérotchka. Don't get up. You will have time to-morrow. Go to sleep."


When Viéra Pavlovna came out from her room the next morning, her husband and Masha were already packing two valises with things. And all the time Masha was hard at work; Lopukhóf gave her so many things to wrap up, and fold, and stow away, that Masha really could not attend to it all. "Viérotchka, you, too, come and help us." And all three of them were drinking tea, as they were taking down and stowing away things. Viéra Pavlovna had hardly time to collect her wits, when her husband said, "It is half-past eleven; it is time to go to the station."

"My dear,[24] I am going with thee."

"My love,[25] Viérotchka, I am going to take two valises; there will be no room for you; you can go with Masha."

"I did not mean that; I mean to Riazan."

"Ah! if that's so, then Masha may bring along the valises, and we will go together."

On the street you cannot well get sentimental in your talk. And besides, there is such a rattling over the pavement. Lopukhóf could not hear all that she said; he made a good many replies that could not be heard, or he would not reply at all.

"I am going with thee to Riazan," repeated Viéra Pavlovna.

"But you have not got your things ready; how can you go? You can get ready if you want to; do just as seems best to you. But I would ask you one thing: wait till you get a letter from me. You will get it to-morrow; I shall write and mail it somewhere on my journey. To-morrow you will get it; wait, I beg of you."

How she throws her arms around him at the gallery of the railway station! With what tears she kisses him, while seeing him into the car! And he speaks all the time about his business in the factory; how fine it is, and how glad his old folks will be to see him, and how everything in the world is dross compared with health, and how important it is for her to look out for her health; and just as he bids her good by, he says, speaking through the balustrade: "You wrote that you had never been so fond of me as you are now; this is true, my dear Viérotchka. And I am not less fond of you than you are of me. And the disposition towards a person,—the wishing his happiness,—this we both firmly believe in. But there is no happiness without freedom. You would not want to restrain me, nor I you. And if you began to use restraint on yourself on my account, you would grieve me; so don't do it. Do whatever you think is for your best. But we will see about it by and by. Write me, when you want me to come back. Good by, my dear;[26] the second bell has rung; it's time for the train to start. Good by."


This was towards the end of April. Towards the middle of June Lopukhóf returned; lived three weeks in Petersburg, then he left for Moscow, on business for the factory, as he said. On the twenty-first of July he left; and on the twenty-third of July, in the morning, happened the misunderstanding in the hotel at the station of the Moscow railroad, on account of the stranger not getting up; and two hours later came the scene in the Kamennoi Ostrof datcha. Now the sapient reader will not fail to have guessed who shot himself. "I saw long ago that it was Lopukhóf," says the sapient reader, in triumph at his perspicacity. Where could he have hid himself, and how did his cap have a bullet-hole through the top? "There is no need of asking; it is only a trick of his, but he caught himself in a net, the rascal," says the sapient reader. Nu! God be with thee; decide it just as thou pleasest; there's no reasoning with thee.



Three hours after Kirsánof left, Viéra Pavlovna came to her senses, and almost her very first thought was, that it was impossible to leave the shop in such a way. Yes; though Viéra Pavlovna loved to assure herself that the shop was getting along by itself, yet in reality she knew that she is only flattering herself with this thought, and, as a matter of fact, the shop needed a director, else it would go astray. However, the business was now very well established, and it took but very little trouble to direct it. Mrs. Mertsálova had two children; but she might spare an hour, or an hour and a half, every day, or not even every day. She surely would not refuse, for already she has a great deal to do with the shop. Viéra Pavlovna began to look over her things, preparatory to the sale of them, and she herself sent Masha first to Mrs. Mertsálova, to ask her to come, and then to the old woman[27] who deals in second-hand clothes and other things of every sort, Rachel, one of the most business-like of Jewesses, and a very good friend of Viéra Pavlovna's, towards whom Rachel had proved herself absolutely honest, as almost all the small retail dealers among the Hebrews are, whether men or women, when they have to do with respectable people. Rachel and Masha had to stop at their city apartment to collect the remainder of the clothes and things, and on their way to stop at the furrier's, where Viéra Pavlovna's shubas were stored away for the summer, and then to come back to their summer datcha with the whole collection, so that Rachel might put a valuation on the things, and buy them all at once.

After Masha left the gate, she was met by Rakhmétof, who had been prowling for half an hour around the datcha.

"Are you going away, Masha? For long?"

"Yes; probably I shan't get back before late this evening; I have a great deal to attend to."

"Is Viéra Pavlovna all alone by herself?"

"She is alone."

"Then I will step in and stay with her, in your place, in case I can do anything to help her."

"If you only would; and I tremble on her account. And I forgot entirely, Mr. Rakhmétof; call some of the neighbors. There is a cook and a nurse-girl, friends of mine, to get dinner; for she has not had anything to eat yet."

"All right! I have not had any dinner myself. We'll help ourselves. Have you had your dinner?"

"Yes; Viéra Pavlovna would not let me go without it."

"Well, that's good. I imagined she would have forgotten this on account of her own trouble."

Except Masha, and those who were her equals or superiors in the simplicity of soul and dress, all people were rather afraid of Rakhmétof. Lopukhóf and Kirsánof, and all those who feared nobody and nothing, felt in his presence, at times, some trepidation. Towards Viéra Pavlovna he was very distant. She found him very tiresome. He never sought her society. But Masha liked him, though he was less sociable and polite to her than were any other of their visitors.

"I came without being invited, Viéra Pavlovna," he began. "But I have seen Aleksandr Matvéitch, and I know all, and so I came to the conclusion that I might be useful to you in some way; and I am going to spend the evening here."

His services might have been very useful, even now, to help Viéra Pavlovna in undoing the things. Any one in Rakhmétof's place would have been asked to do it, or would have offered his services. But he did not offer, and he was not asked. Viéra Pavlovna only pressed his hand, and, with sincere feeling said that she was very grateful to him for his attention.

"I shall remain in the library," he said. "If anything is needed, call me, and if anybody comes, I will open the door. Don't you trouble yourself."

With these words he went into the library; took from his pocket a big piece of ham and a hunk of black rye bread—all of which must have weighed four pounds; he sat down and ate it to the last crumb, striving to chew it all very fine; he drank half a pitcher of water; then he went to the book-shelves and began to pick out something to read. "I know that; not original, not original, not original, not original." This criticism, "not original," referred to such books as Macaulay, Guizot, Thiers, Ranke, Gervinus.

"Ah! but here's something good!"

This he said, after reading on the back of several huge tomes, "Complete works of Newton." He began hastily to turn over the pages; finally he found what he was looking for, and with a lovely smile cried: "Here it is, here it is!—Observations on the Prophesies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St. John.[28] Yes, this side of knowledge has, till now, remained with me without any real foundation. Newton wrote this commentary when he was old, when he was half sane and half crazy. It is the classical fountain when one is on the question of the mixture of sense and insanity. Here is a question of world-wide historical interest; this mixture which is in almost all occurrences, in almost all books, and in almost all brains. But here it must be in a model form: in the first place, the most ingenious and normal brain that ever was known; in the second place, the acknowledged, undisputed insanity which was superinduced upon this brain. And so the book is capital in its way. The most obscure features of the general phenomenon must appear here more distinctly than anywhere else, and no one can have the least doubt that here you find these very features of this phenomenon, to which the features of the mixture of sanity and insanity are related. The book is worth studying."

With great energy he began to read the book, which for the last century had been scarcely read, except by those who wanted to set it right. For any one else to read it, except Rakhmétof, would be equivalent to eating sand or sawdust. But it was to his taste.

Such people as Rakhmétof are rare. So far in my life I have met with only eight examples of this species (and that number includes two women). They have no interrelation, except in one feature. Among them were people soft and severe, people melancholy and gay, energetic people and phlegmatic people, sentimental people (one of them had a severe face, sarcastic even to impudence; another one, with a wooden face, quiet and indifferent to everything; they both shed tears before me several times, like hysterical women, and not on their own account, but during talks on different topics. While by themselves, I am sure they wept often), and people who never, under any circumstances, lost their self-possession. There was no resemblance between them in any respect, with the exception of the one feature, but that feature, in itself, joined them into one species, and separated them from the rest of humanity. I used to laugh at those with whom I have been intimately acquainted, when I was alone with them. They would either get angry or not, but they would also join in the laugh. And, really, there was so much that was amusing about them—the main characteristic was amusing—for this very reason, that they were people of a different species, I love to laugh at such people.

The one whom I met in the circle of Lopukhóf and Kirsánof, and about whom I am going to speak here, serves as a living proof that a reserve clause is necessary in the arguments between Lopukhóf and Mertsálof about the peculiarities of the soil in Viéra Pavlovna's second dream. Such a reserve clause is necessary to this effect, that no matter how bad the soil may be, it may have some very tiny portions which will produce healthy grain. The genealogies of the principal characters of my narrative, Viéra Pavlovna, Kirsánof, and Lopukhóf, to tell the truth, do not go back further than their grandfathers and grandmothers, and possibly by some tremendous straining, you may get back still further to some kind of great-grandmother; the great-grandfather is hidden by the darkness of oblivion; all that is known of him is probably that he was the husband of the great-grandmother, and that his name was Kirill, because the grandfather was Kirilluitch.[29]

Rakhmétof belonged to a family which has been known since the thirteenth century; that is, it is one of the most ancient, not only in Russia, but anywhere in Europe. In the number of the Tartar prisoners, tribal chiefs who were massacred in Tver, according to the words of the chroniclers, on account of their intention of converting the people to Mohammedanism (an intention which they probably did not have), but simply out of brutality, was a certain Rakhmet. The young son of this Rakhmet by a Russian wife, who was the niece of a nobleman of Tver—that is, the oberhōf-marshal or field-marshal—whom Rakhmet married by force, was saved on his mother's account, and he was baptized Mikhaïl instead of Latuif. From this Latuif-Mikhaïl Rakhmétovitch sprang a good many Rakhmétofs. In Tver they were boyars; in Moscow they were crown-officers;[30] in Petersburg, during the last century, they were generals-in-chief; of course not all of them: the family branched out very widely, so that there would not have been enough positions of general-in-chief to give them all. Our Rakhmétof's great-great-grandfather was a friend of Ivan Ivanovitch Shuválof's,[31] and he put him on his feet again after his failure, which was caused by his friendship for Muennich.

His great-grandfather was a contemporary of Rumiantsof; he served till he reached the rank of general-in-chief, and he was killed at the battle near Novo. His grandfather escorted Alexander to Tilsit, and would have risen higher than any of them, but he early ruined his career by his friendship with Speransky. His father served without any success, and without any failures; at the age of forty he resigned with the rank of general-lieutenant, and made his home at one of his estates which were scattered about over the sources of the Medvyedítsa River.[32] The estates were, however, not very large, all in all, probably about two thousand five hundred souls (serfs), and during the leisure which came to him in his country retirement, he had eight children; our Rakhmétof was the next to the youngest; he had one younger sister, and consequently our Rakhmétof did not have a large estate; he received about four hundred souls, and seven thousand desyatins of land.[33] How he managed with his serfs, and his five thousand five hundred desyatins of land is not known to anybody, nor was it known that he kept for himself one thousand five hundred desyatins, and, moreover, generally it was not known, as long as he lived among us, that he was a proprietor,[34] or that the land retained for himself gave him about three thousand rubles income. This we learned afterwards, but at that time we supposed, of course, that he was of the same family as those Rakhmétofs, many of whom were rich proprietors, and who, together bearing the same name, possessed about seventy-five thousand souls around the sources of the Medvyedítsa, Khoper, Sura, and Tsna rivers, who forever were the district marshals[35] of those places, and one or the other of them is constantly the marshal of one or the other of the governmental cities through which run their feudatory rivers. And we knew that our friend Rakhmétof used to spend four hundred rubles a year; for a student of that time that was not very bad, but for a proprietor from among the Rakhmétofs it was too little; and so every one of us, though we cared really very little for such investigations, decided for himself, without making any inquiries, that our Rakhmétof must be from some impoverished or estateless branch of the Rakhmétofs, maybe the son of some kind of a governmental officer,[36] who left his children a small fortune; but we did not bother ourselves about these things.

Now he was twenty-two years old, and he had been a student since he was sixteen; but for nearly three years he had given up the University. He left the second class, went to his estate, took charge of it, after defeating his guardian's resistance, and winning the anathemas of his brothers, and succeeding in making his sister's husbands forbid them to mention his name; then he wandered all over Russia in different guises, both by land and by water, and by one or the other, in a common and an uncommon way; for instance, by foot, and on rafts, and in slow boats; he had a good many adventures, which he brought upon himself. Among other things that he did, he sent two men to the University of Kazan, and five to the University of Moscow; these were his stipendiaries; but to Petersburg, where he, himself, intended to live, he had no students at his expense, and therefore no one of us knew that, instead of four hundred, he had three thousand rubles income. This became known only later on, but all we knew was that he often disappeared for some time, and two years before the time that he is sitting in Kirsánof's library, with Newton's "Commentaries on the Apocalypse," he returned to Petersburg, entered the philological faculty; before he had been in the department of natural science, and that's all.

But if none of Rakhmétof's Petersburg acquaintances were aware of his family and pecuniary standing, yet all who knew him knew him by two nicknames. One of them we have already used in this story,—"the rigorist"; he accepted it with his usual easy smile of gloomy satisfaction. But when he was called Nikitushka or Lomof, or by the full name, Nikitushka Lomof, he smiled broadly and sweetly, and he had just reason for it, because he was not endowed by nature, but gained by the firmness of his will, the right to this name which is so famous among millions of men. But it thunders with its fame only in a district of a hundred versts in width, running through eight provinces; but to the readers living in the rest of Russia it is necessary to explain what this name meant. Nikitushka Lomof was a river-boatman,[37] who went up and down the Volga twenty years or fifteen years ago; he was a giant of herculean strength; he was more than twenty-six feet high;[38] he was so broad across his chest and shoulders that he weighed fifteen puds (600 pounds avoirdupois). Though he was such a heavy man, he was not stout. To illustrate his strength it is necessary to give only one illustration: he used to receive the wages of four men. Whenever his vessel came to a city and he went to market, or, as it is called in the Volga dialect, the bazaar, the boys' were heard in the most distant corners of the streets, shouting: "Here comes Nikitushka Lomof! here comes Nikitushka Lomof!" and everybody ran into the street which led from the wharf to the bazaar, and crowds of people used to pour out after their favorite hero.

Rakhmétof, from the age of sixteen, when he first came to Petersburg, was, as regards strength, an ordinary lad of rather tall stature, rather strong, but by no means remarkable for his strength; certainly two out of ten of his comrades would have got the better of him. But when he was going on to seventeen, it occurred to him that it would be a good thing to acquire physical riches, and he began to work over himself: he energetically practised gymnastics. This was good; but gymnastics only perfect the material, and it is necessary to have a material basis; and so for a time, which was twice as long as he spent on his gymnastics, he used to work every day for several hours as a common laborer, where physical strength was required. He lugged water, he carried wood, chopped wood, sawed trees, cut stone, dug earth, hammered iron; he passed through a good many occupations, and he frequently changed them, because with every new work, with every change, some of his muscles would get a new development. He underwent the diet of a boxer. He began to nurse himself, in the full sense of the word, with the special things which had the reputation of strengthening the body,—beefsteaks, almost raw, more often than anything else; and since that time he always lived in such a way. In a year after he began such a regime, he started off on his wanderings, and here he had still better opportunities to develop his physical strength. He became a plowman, a carpenter, a ferryman, and a workingman—a laborer in every kind of healthy occupation whatever. Once he went the whole length of the Volga, from Dubovka to Ruibinsk, in the capacity of a burlak. To tell the master of the boat and the other burlaks that he wanted to join them would have been regarded as absurd, and he might not have been accepted. So he simply engaged passage as a traveller, and after making friends with the crew, he began to help tow the boat; and at the end of a week he put on the regular harness, as though he had been a genuine laborer. They quickly noticed how powerfully he was towing the boat; they began to put his strength to the test. He out-towed three, even four, of the strongest of his mates. At that time he was twenty years old, and his mates on the boat christened him Nikitushka Lomof, after the memory, of the hero, who at this time had left the stage. In the following summer he was travelling in a steamer. One of the second-class passengers who crowded the steamer's deck proved to be one of his last year's co-workers on the towpath; and in this way his companions, who were students, learned that he must be nicknamed Nikitushka Lomof. In fact, he acquired and, without sparing any time, he kept up his mighty strength. "This is necessary," he used to say; "it gives you respect and love among the common people. This is useful, and it may come handy sometime."

This entered his mind when he was half-way through his sixteenth year, because from that time his peculiarities began to develop themselves. At sixteen he came to Petersburg, as a commonplace, good-natured graduate of the gymnasium, a commonplace, kind, and honest youth, and he spent three or four months in an ordinary way, as all new students do. But he began to learn that there were among the students some very clever heads, who had different ideas from the rest, and he learned the names of half a dozen such students. At that time there were only a few; they interested him, and he began to try to make their acquaintance. He happened to get acquainted with Kirsánof, and from this time dated his regeneration into an extraordinary man, the future Nikitushka Lomof and the rigorist. He listened eagerly to Kirsánof the first evening. He wept; he interrupted him with exclamations of curses against all that was to vanish, and blessings on all that must live. "What books shall I begin to read?" Kirsánof directed him. On the next day, at eight o'clock in the morning, he was walking down the Nevsky, from the Admiralty to the Police Bridge, wondering which German or French bookstore would be the first to open. He took what he wanted, and read steadily for more than seventy-two hours in succession,—from eleven o'clock on Thursday morning till nine o'clock Sunday evening,—eighty-two hours. The first two nights he did not sleep at all. On the third he drank eight cups of the strongest coffee; but on the fourth night coffee refused to support his strength. He fell down on the floor, and slept for fifteen hours. At the end of a week he came to Kirsánof, asked what books further he should read, and some explanations. They became friends; and through him he afterwards met the Lopukhófs. In six months, though he was only seventeen, while they were each one and twenty, they didn't look upon him as only a young fellow compared to themselves; and he had indeed become an extraordinary man.

What earnest was there in his past life for such a course? Not a very great one, but still there was something. His father was a man of despotic character, very clever, educated, and an ultra-conservative, in the very same way as Marya Alekséyevna was ultra-conservative; but he was honest. It was hard for him, of course. But that would not have made any difference to Rakhmétof. But his mother, a woman of very delicate nature, suffered much from her husband's severity; and his whole life was bounded by the village. And this, too, would not have made any difference; there was another thing. It happened that, when he was fifteen, he fell in love with one of his father's mistresses. Trouble ensued, which was, of course, trying to her. He pitied a woman who had suffered a great deal on his account. Thoughts began to stir in him, and Kirsánof stood in the same relation to him as Lopukhóf had stood to Viéra Pavlovna. There was an earnest in his past life; but in becoming such an extraordinary man the principal element is nature. For some time before he left the university and went back to his estate, and afterwards, while wandering over Russia, he adopted original principles in his material, moral, and intellectual life; and after he returned, they had been crystallized into a complete system, to which he unflinchingly adhered. He said to himself, "I am not going to drink a drop of wine; I shall not touch a woman." Yet his nature was passionate.

"What is the need? There is no good of going to such extremes." "It is necessary. We ask, demand, for all people the full enjoyment of life. We must bear witness with our own lives, that we are demanding this, not for the gratification of our personal passions, not for ourselves personally, but for humanity in general, that we speak only in accordance with principle and not from preference, according to conviction and not individual necessity."

Consequently, he began to lead a very severe and ascetic style of life. To become a Nikitushka Lomof, and keep up the character, he had to eat meat, a great deal of meat, and he ate a great deal. But he grudged every kopek that he spent on anything else but meat. He gave orders to his landlady[39] to buy the very best meat that was to be had, and have the very best pieces for him; but all else that he ate at home was of the cheapest description. He gave up white bread and ate only black bread at his table. For weeks at a time he never had a piece of sugar in his mouth; for months at a time he never tasted fruit, or veal, or chicken. With his own money he never bought anything of the kind. "I have no right to spend money for luxuries which I can easily get along without." Yet he was brought up at a table where luxury reigned, and his taste was refined, as was seen by his remarks on dishes, when he used to dine at the table of others. He enjoyed a good many of the dishes of which he did not partake at his own table, but some dishes be would not eat at the table of a stranger. The cause for the distinction was a solid one: "What the common people eat now and then, I, also, may eat occasionally; but whatever is not in the reach of the common people, I, too, must not eat. This I must do, so as to appreciate how wretched the lives of the people are in comparison with mine."

Therefore, if fruits were served, he actually ate apples, but he absolutely refused apricots; oranges he would eat in Petersburg, but he would not touch them in the provinces. Don't you see, in Petersburg the people sometimes eat them, but never in the provinces. Pies he used to eat, "because a good pirog is not worse than a pie, and pie-crust is familiar to the common people"; but he never ate sardines. He used to dress very poorly, though at one time he liked finery; and in all other respects he led the life of a Spartan; for example, he never allowed a mattress, and he slept on a bag of straw, not even allowing it to be doubled.

He had one spot on his conscience,—he did not give up smoking. "I cannot think without a cigar. If that is really so, then I am right; but maybe it is from weakness of will power." And he would not smoke bad cigars, for he was brought up amid aristocratic surroundings. Out of his four hundred roubles of income, he used to spend one hundred and fifty on cigars. "It is a detestable weakness," as he used to express himself. And only this weakness afforded some possibility of getting the best of him. If he went too far with his reproaches of others, the one whom he reproached would say to him, "Yes, but perfection is impossible—even you smoke." Then Rakhmétof would break out into reproaches of double strength; but the greater part he would pour out on his own head, the other would get the smaller share of them, though he would not be forgotten.

He succeeded in accomplishing a great deal, because in disposing of his time he put exactly as firm restrictions on himself as in material things. Not a quarter of an hour a month was lost in recreation; he did not take rest. "My occupations are various; change from one occupation to another is sufficient rest." He did not join the circle of his friends, whose headquarters were at Kirsánof's or the Lopukhófs', more frequently than was necessary to keep him in close relations with this circle. "This is necessary; every-day occurrences prove the advantage of having close connection with some circle of men; it is necessary to have in your power open resources for various references." With the exception of the meetings with this circle, he never called on anybody, except on business, and he never stayed five minutes longer than was necessary for his business; and he never allowed anybody to stay with him, except on the same conditions. Without beating around the bush he would say to the caller, "We have talked about this business; now you will allow me to take up other things, because my time is valuable."

During the first months of his regeneration, he used to spend almost all his time reading; but this lasted only a little more than six months. When he saw that he had acquired a systematic style of thought in the spirit whose principles he found to be correct, he said to himself: "Reading is now a secondary matter: from this time forth I am ready for life;" and he began to give to reading only the time which was free from other occupations, and such time was very little. Notwithstanding this fact, he extended the circle of his knowledge with wonderful rapidity; now that he is twenty-two years old, he is a man of remarkably solid leaning. This was because he had made a rule also in this regard: luxury and pleasure there should be none; only what is needful. And what is needful? He used to say: "On every subject there are very few first-rate works; all that you can find fuller and clearer in these few, in all the rest is repeated, spoiled, ruined. It is necessary to read only them, and all other reading is only an idle waste of time. Let us take Russian belles lettres. I say: I shall read Gogol before anything else. In the thousand and one other stories I see, from half a dozen lines on half a dozen different pages, that they contain nothing else but Gogol spoiled; why should I read them, then? The same thing in science; in science this limit is still more striking. If I have read Adam Smith, Malthus, Ricardo, and Mill, I know the alpha and the omega of their theories, and I have no need of reading hundreds of other political economists, no matter how famous they may be: by half a dozen lines on half a dozen pages I see that I shall not find one single fresh thought which belongs to them; they are all borrowed and mutilated. I read only spontaneous works, and only to such a degree as to appreciate their spontaneity." Therefore, it was impossible to make him read Macaulay; after spending a quarter of an hour on different pages, he decided: I know all the originals from which this matter is taken. He read Thackeray's "Vanity Fair" with delight, and he began to read "Pendennis," but he gave it up when he reached the twentieth page. "All this is said in 'Vanity Fair'; apparently there will be nothing more, and so there is no need of reading it. Every book that I read in such a way spares me the necessity of reading hundreds of books," he used to say.[40]

Gymnastics, work that served to increase his strength and reading,—these were Rakhmétof's personal occupations; but after he returned to Petersburg, they took only the fourth part of his time; the rest of his time he spent in helping others, or in things that did not belong to any one in particular, constantly observing the same rule as in reading: not to waste any time on secondary matters and with secondary people, but to occupy himself only with things of essential importance, from which the secondary things and secondary people are influenced, without his interference. For instance, outside of his circle, he used to get acquainted only with people who had influence over others. Whoever was not an authority for several other people could not even begin a conversation with him; he used to say, "I beg you to excuse me," and go away. But in the same way it was impossible for any one with whom he had a desire to become acquainted to avoid him in anywise. He simply used to come to you and say whatever he had to say, with such an introduction as this: "I want to be acquainted with you; it is necessary. If you have no time now, appoint another time." To your trifling business he never paid the least heed, no matter if you were his closest friend, and begged him to help you out of your embarrassment. "I have no time," he would say, and go away. But in important business he used to take a share, when it was necessary, as he expressed it, though no one may have asked his aid. "I must," he used to say. What things he used to say and do on such occasions is beyond comprehension.

Here, for example, is my own experience with him. I was then not very young; I was living comfortably, and therefore oftentimes five or six young people from my province used to visit me. Consequently, I was a valuable man for his purposes; these young people were attached to me, because they saw that I had an attachment for them; in this manner he heard my name. And I, when I had met him for the first time, at Kirsánof's, had never known anything about him; this was soon after his return from his wanderings. He came in after I did; I was the only one in the company whom he did not know. When he entered, he took Kirsánof aside, and indicating me with his eyes, said several words. Kirsánof answered him briefly, and they separated. In a minute Rakhmétof was sitting directly in front of me, with only a small table which stood by the sofa dividing us, and from this distance, which was only an arshín and a half, he began to study my face with all his might. I was vexed; he examined me without any ceremony, as though I were not a man, but a picture: I grew angry. It was none of his business. After looking at me for two or three minutes, he said to me: "Mr. N., I must get acquainted with you; I know you, but you don't know me. Ask about me of the khozyáïn, and anybody else whom you particularly trust, in this company." Having said this, he got up and went into the other room.

"Who is that crank[41]?"

"That is Rakhmétof; he wants you to ask whether he can be trusted,—without hesitation; and whether he deserves attention—he is more important than all the rest of us here taken together," said Kirsánof, and others corroborated it.

In about five minutes he returned to the room where we were all sitting. He did not say anything to me, and he spoke very little to the others. The conversation was not scientific and not important.

"Ah! it is already ten o'clock!" he exclaimed, after some little time. "At ten o'clock I have an engagement at such and such a place.—Mr. N.," he said, turning to me. "I have a few words that I want to say to you. When I took the khozyáïn aside to ask him who you were, I pointed you out with my eyes, so that you must have seen that I was asking who you were; consequently, it would be useless not to make signs which would be natural at asking such a question. When will you be at home, so that I may call on you?"

I did not like new acquaintances at that time, and this imposition did not please me at all.

"I am only at home when I am asleep; I am out all day," I said.

"But you sleep at home? What time do you go to bed?"

"Very late."

"For example?"

"Two or three o'clock."

"That makes no difference to me; name your time."

"If it's absolutely necessary, I will set to-morrow, at half-past four in the morning."

"Of course I might take your words to be insulting and ridiculous; but maybe it is true that you have your own reasons, which, very likely, deserve approval. At all events, I shall call upon you to-morrow morning at half-past four."

"No; if you are so bent upon it, you may come a little later. I will be home all the morning till twelve o'clock."

"All right; I'll be there at ten o'clock. Will you be alone?"


"Very good."

He came; and without any beating around the bush, went straight at the matter, on account of which he felt it necessary to get acquainted with me. We talked for half an hour. What the subject was, makes no difference; suffice it to say, that he declared that such and such a thing must be done. I said, "No"; he said, "You must do it"; I said, "Not at all." In half an hour he said:—

"It is evidently useless to talk about this matter longer. Are you convinced that I am a man who deserves full trust?"

"Yes; I was told so by all, and now I see for myself."

"And after all, do you still stick to your decision?"

"I do."

"Do you know what conclusion one can draw from this?—that you are either a liar or a villain."

What do you think of that? What would have been necessary to do to anybody else who said such words? Challenge him to a duel? But he speaks in such a tone, without any personal feeling, like a historian, who judges coolly, and with no intention of offending, but for the sake of truth; and he is so strange, that it would be ridiculous to take offence, and all I could do was to laugh. "But that is one and the same thing," I said.

"In this case it is not one and the same thing."

"Nu, but maybe I am both at once."

"In this case, to be both is impossible, but one of the two things, surely: either you are thinking and acting not as you speak, and in such a case you are a liar; or, you are thinking and acting as you speak, in which case you must be a villain; one or the other must be so. I take it for granted that it is the first hypothesis."

"Think as you please," I said, still laughing.

"Good by.[42] At all events, understand that I still preserve my trust in you, and I will be ready to renew our conversation whenever you please."

With all the roughness of his behavior, Rakhmétof was entirely right; both in the very fact that he began as he did, because he first learned thoroughly about me, and only then undertook this business with me; and that he ended the conversation as he did. I really did not tell him what I thought, and he really was right in calling me a liar; and this could not be offensive at all; it was even flattering to me, "in the present case," according to his expression, because there was such a case, and because he could preserve his former confidence in me, and possibly even respect.

Yes, with all the savageness of his manners, everybody remained satisfied that Rakhmétof acted as he did, because it was the most simple and common-sense way of acting; and the terrible extremes to which he went, and his horrible reproaches, he spoke in such a way, that no person of common sense could be offended with them; and with all his phenomenal roughnesses, he was at heart very gentle. His preliminary talk was always of this stamp. Every embarrassing explanation he began thus:—

"You know very well that I speak without any personal feeling. If my words prove to be disagreeable, I beg you to excuse them; but I find that there is no need of getting offended when anything is kindly meant, absolutely, without intention of offending, but from necessity. However, as soon as it shall seem to you useless to listen to my words, I will stop; my rule is, to offer my opinion everywhere and always, whenever I am impelled; but never to impose it upon any one."

And actually he did not impose it; it was impossible to save one's self from him expressing his opinion, if he found it necessary, but only so far that you might understand his view of it; but he did it in two or three words, and then he would add: "Now you know what the tenor of my conversation would be; do you find it useful to have such a talk?" If you said "No," he bowed and went off.

This was the way that he spoke and managed his affairs, and he had a great many things to attend to, and none of them were matters that concerned him personally; he had no personal business, as everybody knew; but what affairs he attended to, no one in the circle knew. It could only be seen that he had a great deal of bother. He was at home very little; he was always on the go; he was always travelling, but for the most part he walked. But there were always people calling upon him; either the same people, or new ones. And on this account, he made it a rule to be always at home between two and three; at this time he talked with them and had his dinner. But very often he would not be at home for several days; then in his place, one of his friends who was devoted to him soul and body, would be at his rooms and receive callers, silent as the grave.

Two years after this glimpse of him in Kirsánof's library with Newton's "Commentary on the Apocalypse," he left Petersburg, telling Kirsánof, and one or two of his most intimate friends, that he had nothing more to do there, that he has done all that he could, that he may be able to do more after three years, that these three years are free now, that he is thinking of availing himself of them, according as it may seem necessary for his future activity. We learned afterwards that he left for his former estate, sold the land which he had reserved, getting thirty-five thousand rubles for it, went to Kazan and Moscow, gave five thousand rubles or so to his stipendiaries, so that they might graduate, and that was all that we knew about him. Where he went after leaving Moscow is not known. After several months passed without any tidings from him, those who knew something more about him than all the rest knew ceased to hide things, about which, by his request, they had kept silent so long as he was among us. Then our little circle learned that he had stipendiaries, and also learned the larger part of his personal doings, which I have already told. We learned a great deal about his adventures, which, however, did not explain everything; in fact, explained nothing at all, but only made Rakhmétof a still more mysterious person for the whole circle; adventures, which, by their strangeness, surprised us, or entirely contradicted the opinion, which the circle entertained of him as a man who was entirely hard-hearted as far as personal feeling went; one who had not, if I may use the expression, a personal heart, beating with the sensation of personal life. To relate all of these adventures would not be in place here; I shall only quote two of them of two different kinds: one of a savage order; the other of a stamp which contradicted the former ideas entertained by the circle in his regard. I will select these histories from those told by Kirsánof.

About a year before he left Petersburg for the second, and probably the last, time, Rakhmétof said to Kirsánof, "Give me a good quantity of plaster for curing wounds from sharp weapons." Kirsánof gave him a big jar, supposing that Rakhmétof wanted to take this medicament to some society of carpenters or other laborers, who are frequently subjected to cuts. On the next morning, Rakhmétof's landlady came in great alarm to Kirsánof: "Bátiushka! doctor, I don't know what has happened to my tenant; he has not been out of his room for a long time; he has locked the door; I peeked through the crack; he was lying all in blood. I began to scream, and he says to me, says he, 'It's nothing, Agrafyéna Antonovna.' What does he mean by nothing? Save him bátiushka, doctor; I'm afraid it's suicide: he is so unmerciful to himself!"

Kirsánof ran in all haste. Rakhmétof opened the door with a melancholy broad smile; the caller saw the thing from which not Agrafyéna Antonovna alone might have been frightened; the back and shoulders of his underclothes (he was dressed only in his underclothes) were soaked with blood; there was blood on the bed; the straw bed on which he slept was also covered with blood; in the straw were thousands of little nails with heads down and points up; they penetrated out from the bag almost an inch:[43] Rakhmétof had been lying on them all night long.

"For heaven's sake, what is the matter, Rakhmétof?" cried Kirsánof, in horror.

"It is a trial; it is necessary; it's incredible, of course; however, it is necessary. I see that I can stand it."

Besides what Kirsánof saw, it may be judged from this that the khozyáïka also could relate a great many interesting things about Rakhmétof; but in her capacity of a simple-hearted and simply-dressed old woman, she was out of her wits in regard to him, and, of course, it was impossible to learn anything from her. This time she ran off to get Kirsánof only because Rakhmétof allowed her to do so to calm her. She wept so bitterly, thinking that he was going to commit suicide.

Two months after that was the end of May. Rakhmétof was away for a week or more, but at that time nobody noticed it, because it was a common occurrence for him to vanish in that way. Now Kirsánof told the following story of the way Rakhmétof spent those days. They constituted an erotic episode in Rakhmétof's life. Love arose from an occurrence which was worthy of Nikitushka Lomof. Rakhmétof was going from the first Pargalof into town, lost in thoughts, and looking at the ground in his usual way. He was near the Forestry Institute; he was awakened from his thoughts by the desperate shrieks of a woman; he looked up: a horse attached to a sharaban, in which a lady was riding, was running away. The lady, herself, was driving, but she could not control him; the reins were trailing on the ground, and the horse was within two steps of Rakhmétof. He threw himself in the midst of the way, but the horse was already past him; he had no time to catch the reins; he had only time to catch the hind axle of the sharaban; he brought it to a stop, but it threw him down. A crowd gathered, helped the lady out of the sharaban, and lifted Rakhmétof to his feet. His chest was somewhat bruised, but the worst was that the wheel had torn out a large piece of flesh from his leg. The lady came to herself, and ordered him taken to her datcha, which was within half a verst. He consented because he felt weak from loss of blood, but he asked that Kirsánof should be sent for without fail, and no other doctor. Kirsánof found that the bruises on his chest were not serious, but Rakhmétof was weak from loss of blood. He lay there for ten days. The rescued lady, of course, took care of him herself. He could not do anything else in his weak condition, and so he talked with her—all the same the time would be wasted—he talked with her, and became quite friendly with her. The lady was a widow of nineteen; she was not poor, and, generally speaking, she was in an absolutely independent position, an intellectual and respectable woman. Rakhmétof's fiery speeches, of course not on the subject of love, charmed her. "I see him in my dreams surrounded by a halo," she said to Kirsánof. Rakhmétof also fell in love with her. She, judging by his dress, and by everything else, supposed that he was a man who had absolutely nothing, and therefore she was the first to confess her love, and she offered to marry him, when on the eleventh day he got up and said that he was able to go home.

"I have been more frank with you than with others. You see, such people as I have no right to unite the fate of any one else with their own."

"Yes, that is true," she said; "you have no right to marry. But till the time when you must renounce me, love me."

"No, I cannot accept that," he said. "I must suppress love in my heart; to love you would tie my hands. Even as it is, they cannot be free so soon, for they are already tied. But I shall untie them; I must not love."

What became of the lady? A crisis must have come into her life. In all probability she also became an extraordinary person. I wanted to find out about it, but I cannot. Kirsánof did not tell me her name, and he himself did not know what became of her. Rakhmétof asked him not to see her and not to inquire about her. "If I supposed that you knew anything about her, I could not refrain from asking, and that would not do."

After hearing this story, all remembered that for a month or two afterwards, and maybe more, Rakhmétof was more melancholy than usual, did not get angry with himself, no matter how his "eyes were pinched" by his low weakness,—that is, for cigars,—and did not smile sweetly and broadly when he was flattered with the name of Nikitushka Lomof. And I recollected also more, that summer, three or four times in conversations with me (some time after our first conversation he began to be fond of me, because I laughed at him), when I was alone with him, and in reply to my rallying him, would utter such words as these: "Yes, pity me; you are right. I myself am not an abstract idea; I am a man who would like to love. Nu, it is nothing though; it will pass," he would add. And in reality he got over it. Only once, after I had roused his spirits by some of my ridiculous speeches, even in the late fall, he still uttered these words.

The sapient reader, maybe, will guess from this that I know more about Rakhmétof than I am telling him. It may be; I do not dare to contradict him, because he is so sapient. But if I do not know, there are a good many other things that I know which thou, sapient reader, will not know, as long as thou shalt live. But there is one thing that I really do not know. I do not know this: where Rakhmétof is now, and what he is doing, or whether I shall ever see him again. I have no other information or conjectures, beyond what all of his acquaintances have. When three or four months had passed since his disappearance from Moscow, and there was no tidings at all about him, we all supposed that he went travelling over Europe. This conjecture apparently was true. At least, it was confirmed by the following circumstance. In a year after Rakhmétof disappeared, one of Kirsánof's acquaintances met, on a car between Vienna and Munich, a young Russian, who said that he had travelled all over the Slavonic lands. Everywhere he had made friends among all classes; and in every country he had stayed long enough to learn the ideas, habits, style of life, the local customs of self-government, the different degrees of welfare among all the classes of the population; and for this purpose he had lived in the cities and towns, and had gone on foot from one village to another. Then afterwards, in the same way, he had studied the Rumanians and Hungarians. He had travelled over Northern Germany; from there he had again made his way on foot to the South, in the German provinces of Austria. Now he was going to Bavaria, and from there to Switzerland, through Wurtemberg and Baden to France, which he intended to travel and walk through in the same way. From there, with the same purpose in view, he was going to England; and he intended to spend a year in this way. If any time should be left from this year, he would see the Spaniards and Italians. But if no time were left, then be it so, because this is "not so necessary"; but the other lands are necessary. "Why?" "For study."

And after a year it would be "necessary" for him to be, at all events, in the States of North America, to study, which was more "necessary" for him than any other land, and there he was going to stay a long time; maybe for more than a year, and maybe forever, if he should find anything to do there. But it was more probable that in three years he would return to Russia, because in Russia, if not now, still by that time, it will be "necessary" for him to be there.

All this seemed very much like Rakhmétof, especially the word "necessary," which was left in the narrator's memory. His age, his voice, his features, as far as the narrator could remember, of the traveller, also pointed to Rakhmétof; but the narrator did not pay much attention at that time to his travelling companion, who, moreover, was not with him very long, not more than two hours. He entered the train at some little town, and he got out at some village; therefore the narrator could describe his appearance only in too general terms, and there was no full certainty possible; but in all probability it was Rakhmétof. Yet who can tell? Maybe it was not he.

There was still another rumor, that a young Russian, once a proprietor,[44] appeared before one of the greatest European philosophers of the nineteenth century, the father of a new philosophy, a German. "I have thirty thousand thalers; all I need is five thousand. The balance I beg of you to accept from me." (The philosopher was living very wretchedly.) "Why?" "To publish your works." The philosopher naturally did not accept the offer; but the Russian was said to have left the money with a banker in the philosopher's name, and to have written him thus: "Use this money as you please. Throw it into the river, if you want, but you can't return it to me; you can't find me." And it is said that even now this money is at the banker's. If this rumor is true, then there is no doubt that it was Rakhmétof who appeared before the philosopher.

Such was the gentleman who was sitting in Kirsánof's library.

Yes, this gentleman is an extraordinary man, an example of a very rare species. I do not describe this example of a very rare species, with all this detail, for the sake of teaching thee, O sapient reader, how to treat people of this kind politely, for that is out of thy province. It is not likely that thou wilt see any such people; thy eyes, sapient reader, are not constituted so as to see such people; they are invisible to thee; only honest and courageous eyes see them; but the description of this man will serve thee, so thou canst know by hearsay what people there are in the world. For what purpose this description serves my lady readers and simple-hearted readers, they best know by themselves.

Yes, ridiculous people like Rakhmétof are very amusing. I Say this for their own benefit, that they are ridiculous, because I feel pity for them. I say to those noble people who are fascinated by them, Don't follow their example. I say this because the path over which they call you to follow is barren of personal happiness. But noble people do not listen to me. They say, "No, it is not barren, it is very rich; though it may be barren in some places, yet these places are not long; we shall have strength enough to pass these places, and we shall come to places which are rich with endless happiness." So thou seest, sapient reader, that it is not for thy sake, but for the other part of the public, that I have said that such people as Rakhmétof are ridiculous. To thee, O sapient reader, I will declare that they are not bad people; otherwise, thou very likely wilt not understand for thyself. No, they are not bad people. There are few of them, but through them flourishes the life of all; without them life would become dead and putrid; there are few of them, but they help all people to breathe; without them people would suffocate. The mass of honest and kind people is great, but people like these are few; but they are in the midst, like theine in tea, like the bouquet in fine wine; from them come their strength and fragrance; it is the flower of the best people; they are the motive powers of motive powers, they are the salt of the salt of the earth.


"Well [nu!]," thinks the sapient reader, "now the main character is to be Rakhmétof; and he will put everybody into his belt, and Viéra Pavlovna will fall in love with him; and soon the same story will begin with Kirsánof as happened to Lopukhóf."

There will be nothing of the sort, O sapient reader. Rakhmétof will spend the evening, will speak with Viéra Pavlovna. I shall not hide one word of their conversation from thee, and thou shalt quickly see, that if I did not want to share this conversation with thee, it might have been very easy for me to hide it from thee, and the current of my narration would not have been altered in the least if I had kept silent; and I tell thee in advance, that after Rakhmétof speaks with Viéra Pavlovna, he will leave the house, and then he will disappear forever from this narrative; and that he will be neither the main nor a subordinate, or any character whatsoever in my novel. Then why was he brought into the novel at all, and described so minutely? Just try, sapient reader, if thou canst guess why. But this will be told thee in the following pages, immediately after Rakhmétof's conversation with Viéra Pavlovna. As soon as he disappears, I will tell thee at the end of the chapter. Now just try to guess what will be said there; it is not very hard to guess if thou hast the least conception of the artistic, of which thou art so fond of talking. But how canst thou? Nu! I will tell thee more than half of the answer. Rakhmétof was brought in so as to fulfil the principal, the most radical demand of what is artistic; exclusively to give satisfaction to it. Well, well! Guess now. Try to guess this very minute what is that demand. What was it needful to do for its satisfaction? and how was it satisfied by showing thee Rakhmétof's figure, which has no influence or part in the current of this narrative? Well (nu-ko), guess! The lady reader and the simple reader, who do not talk about the artistic, they understand. But do try to guess, thou wiseling! For this reason plenty of time is given thee, and for this purpose a long and thick dash is placed between the lines. Dost thou see how much pains I take on thy account? Stop for a moment, and just think if thou canst not guess!

Mrs. Mertsálova came, shed a few tears, offered some consolation, and said it would give her pleasure to take charge of the sewing shop, but she did not know as she had the ability; and again she shed a few tears and offered some more consolation, while helping to look over the things. Rakhmétof, after asking the servant at the next neighbor's to go to the bakery, put up the samovar, set it on the table, and they began to drink their tea. Rakhmétof sat for half an hour with the ladies, drank half a dozen glasses of tea, and, together with them, he emptied half of a huge pitcher of cream and ate a terrible quantity of baked things, besides two simple loaves of white bread, which served as the foundation for the rest.

"I have a right to take this delectation, because I sacrificed twelve hours."

He took his enjoyment, listened as the ladies tormented themselves to death, three times expressed his opinion that it was "nonsense"; not the fact that the ladies were tormenting themselves to death, but suicide for any cause whatsoever, except too painful and incurable physical disease, or the presentiment of some painful and unavoidable death; for instance, being broken upon the wheel. He expressed this opinion in a few but strong words; according to his custom, he helped himself to a sixth glass of tea, poured the remainder of the cream into it, took what was left of the baked things,—the ladies had already long ago finished with their tea,—bowed, and went with these materials into the library again, to enjoy the finale of his material enjoyment, almost to make a sybarite of himself, to place himself on the sofa, on which everybody was free to take a nap, but which was for him something in the nature of genuine Capuan luxury.

"I have earned my right to this delectation, because I have sacrificed twelve or fourteen hours' time."

After he had finished his material enjoyment, he took up his intellectual feast again, the reading of the "Commentary of the Apocalypse." At nine o'clock the police tchinovnik came to tell the suicide's wife about the matter, which was now entirely cleared up. Rakhmétof told him that the widow knew all about it, and there was no need of her hearing anything more. The tchinovnik was very glad that he had escaped such a tormenting scene. Then Masha and Rachel put in appearance. They began to examine the things; Rachel found that everything, all told—except the good shuba, which she advised her not to sell, because in three months she would have to get a new one, and to this Viéra Pavlovna consented; that all the rest was worth four hundred and fifty rubles; and really she could not do better than that, even according to Mrs. Mertsálova's inward conviction. Thus about ten o'clock, the commercial operation was brought to an end. Rachel paid down two hundred rubles; she had no more; the balance she would send in three days to Mertsálova: so she took the things and went off. Mertsálova stayed for an hour longer, and then it was time for her to go home and nurse her baby; and she went, saying that she would come on the next day to accompany her to the railroad station.

After Mertsálova went away, Rakhmétof closed Newton's "Commentary on the Apocalypse," put it carefully in its place, and sent Masha to ask Viéra Pavlovna if he might see her. He came in with his usual tranquillity and calmness.

"Viéra Pavlovna, I can now, to a great degree, console you. Now it is possible; before it was impossible. I will tell you in advance that the general result of my visit will be consoling to you; you know that I do not speak vain words, therefore, and in advance, you must become calm. I am going to lay the matter before you in due order: I told you that I met Aleksandr Matvéitch, and that I know all about it. This is really true; I really saw Aleksandr Matvéitch, and I really know everything. But I did not say that I knew all from him, and I could not have said so, because I do not know all from him; because, to tell the truth, I know all that I know, not from him, but from Dmitri Sergéitch, who spout two hours with me. I was told that he was coming to see me, and so I stayed at home; he was with me for two hours, and even longer, after he had written the little note which caused you so much pain, and he asked—"

"You heard what he intended to do, and you did not stop him?"

"I asked you to be calm, because the result of my call will be comforting to you. No; I did not stop him, because his decision was soundly based, as you yourself will acknowledge. I will begin again: he asked me to spend this evening with you, because he knew that you would be grieved, and he gave me a message to you. He naturally chose me to do this, because he knew me as a man who fulfils messages with minute exactness, if I undertake it; and cannot be turned aside by any feeling or by any requests, from the exact fulfilment of the obligation undertaken. He foresaw that you would implore any one to violate his will, and he knew that I, not being moved by your prayers, would fulfil it, and I shall fulfil it; and so I beg of you in advance, do not ask me to yield in any degree from what I say. His commission was as follows: he, while going away, in order to 'leave these scenes[45]'"

"Bozhe moï! what has he done? How could it be that you did not stop him?"

"Just get the meaning of his expression, 'to leave these scenes,' and do not condemn me prematurely. He used that expression in the note which you received; didn't he? and we must use this very same expression, because it is very strikingly chosen."

Viéra Pavlovna's eyes began to show some lack of comprehension; her whole face clearly implied the thought, "I do not know what he means! what am I to think about this?"

O Rakhmétof! with all the apparent absurdity of his circumstantial manner of laying the matter before her, was a master, a great master, in the art of management! He was a great psychologist; he knew and could fulfil the laws of gradual preparation.

"And so, while going away, in order, as he rightly expressed it, 'to leave these scenes,' he left in my hands a note for you."

Viéra Pavlovna jumped up. "Where is it? Let me have it! and how could you sit a whole day without giving it to me?"

"I could, because I saw the necessity. Very soon you will appreciate my reasons; they are well founded. Before all, I want to explain to you the expression which I used when I began, 'that the result will be comforting to you.' I did not mean that this note would conduce to your comfort; for two reasons, the first of which is that the receipt of the note would not have been sufficiently comforting to deserve the name of consolation; isn't that true? For consolation something more is required. And so the consolation must be in the very contents of the note."

Viéra Pavlovna again jumped up.

"Be calm; I cannot say that you are in the wrong. Having mentioned to you the contents of the note, I shall ask you to listen to the second reason why I could not mean by the words 'comforting result' the mere act of your receiving the note, but that I had to mean its contents. These contents, the character of which we have insinuated, are so important that I can only show it to you, but I cannot give it to you. You may read it, but you cannot keep it."

"What! You are not going to give it to me?"

"No! For this very reason I was chosen! for anyone else in my place would have given it to you. It cannot remain in your hands, because, from the extraordinary importance of its contents, which we have mentioned, it must not remain in any one's hands. But you would certainly want to keep it if I were to give it to you. Therefore, rather than be compelled to take it away from you by main force, I shall not give it to you, but I shall only show it to you. But I shall only show it to you when you have sat down, put your hands on your knees, and given me your promise not to lift them."

If there had been any stranger there, no matter with what a sentimental heart he had been gifted, he could not have helped laughing over the solemnity of all this procedure, and especially over the ceremonious ceremony of its final scene. It was ridiculous without doubt. But how good it would be for all nerves if, while imparting cruel tidings, you were able to preserve the tenth part of the ceremony of preparation which Rakhmétof did.

But Viéra Pavlovna, not being a stranger, of course could only feel the trying element of this torturing slowness, and she herself presented a figure at which the observer would have found no less cause for amusement, when, sitting down quickly, obediently folding her hands, and with the most ludicrous voice, that is, with a voice of poignant impatience, she cried out, "I take my oath!"

Rakhmétof laid on the table a sheet of writing paper, on which were written ten or twelve lines.

Viéra Pavlovna had hardly cast her eyes upon them when, at the very same instant, flushing, forgetting all her oaths, she jumped up; like a lightning-flash her hand grasped for the note, but the note was already far in Rakhmétof's uplifted hand.

"I foresaw this, and therefore, if you were able to notice, as you may have noticed, I did not take my hand entirely from the note. The very same way I shall keep hold of this sheet by the corner so long as it lies on the table. Therefore, all your attempts to grab it will be in vain."

Viéra Pavlovna sat down again and folded her hands. Again Rakhmétof put the note before her eyes. She read it over twenty times in excitement. Rakhmétof stood very patiently behind her chair, keeping in his hand the corner of the sheet. Thus passed a quarter of an hour. Finally Viéra Pavlovna lifted her hand very quietly, evidently without any thieving intention, and covered her eyes with it: "How kind! how kind!" she exclaimed.

"I do not entirely share your opinion, and why, we shall see later on. This is not the fulfilment of his commission, but only the expression of my opinion, which I expressed also to him when we met last. His commission consisted in my showing you this note and then burning it up. Have you seen it as long as you want?"

"I want to see it more, more!"

Again she folded her hands; again he put down the note, and with patience as before he again stood a good quarter of an hour. Again she hid her face in her hands, and kept uttering, "Oh, how kind! how kind!"

"So far as you could learn this note by heart, you have done so. If you were in a calm state of mind you would not only have known it by heart, but the form of every letter would forever be engraved in your memory, so long and attentively you have been looking at it; but by such excitement as you are in, the laws of remembrance are violated, and your memory may fail you. Foreseeing this emergency, I made a copy of this note; whenever you want you can always see this copy, which I shall retain. Sometime I may even see the possibility of giving it to you. But now, I suppose, the original can be burned up, and then my errand will be ended."

"Show it to me again!"

Once more he laid the note down. This time Viéra Pavlovna kept continually lifting her eyes from the paper: it was evident that she was learning herself to see if she knew it perfectly. In a few minutes she sighed and ceased to lift her eyes from the note.

"Now, I see you have already seen it long enough. It is already twelve o'clock, and I want to give you the benefit of my thoughts about this affair, because I consider it useful for you to learn my opinion about it. Are you willing?"


At that very moment the note was burning in the flame of the candle.

"Akh!" cried Viéra Pavlovna; "I did not mean that! why did you?"

"Yes, you only said that you were willing to listen to me. But it does not make any difference now. It was necessary to burn it up some time." When he had said this, Rakhmétof sat down. "And besides, there is a copy of the note left. Now, Viéra Pavlovna, I am going to express my judgment on this whole matter. I am going to begin with you. You are going away. Why?"

"Because it would be very hard for me to stay here. The sight of places which would remind me of the past would drive me crazy!"

"Yes, it is a very disagreeable feeling. But would it be any easier in another place? For very few it is easy! And meantime, what have you done? For the sake of getting some trifling comfort for yourself, you have left to the mercy of chance the fate of fifty people whose lives depend upon you. Is that good?"

What had become of the melancholy solemnity of Rakhmétof's tone? He spoke lively, easily, simply, enthusiastically.

"Yes; but I was going to ask Mertsálova."

"'Tis not the same thing. You don't know whether she would be capable of taking your place in the shop; for her ability in regard to this has never yet been tried. But here a grade of ability is demanded which it is very hard to find. There are ten chances to one that you will not find anybody to take your place, and that your withdrawal will affect the shop injuriously. Is that good? You are going to subject to certain, almost unavoidable, injury the interests of fifty people; and for what? For a slight comfort to yourself. Is that good? What a tender solicitude for a trifling alleviation of your pain, and what heartlessness for the fate of others! What do you think of this part of your action?"

"But why didn't you stop me?"

"You would not have listened. And then, I knew that you would soon come back. Consequently the matter would not amount to anything important. Do you plead guilty?"

"Absolutely," said Viéra Pavlovna, partly jesting, but partly, and for the most part, in serious earnest.

"Now, this is only one part of your fault. All around you still greater will be found. But since you confess, you shall be rewarded by help towards correcting the other fault, which it is possible still to correct. Are you calm now, Viéra Pavlovna?"

"Yes, almost."

"All right. What do you think? is Masha asleep? Do you need her now for anything?"

"Of course not."

"But now you are calm; consequently, you might remember that you ought to tell her to go to bed, for it is one o'clock, and she gets up early in the morning. Who ought to have remembered about this, you or I? I am going to tell her to go to bed. And here, by the way, for your new confession—for you are sorry for your fault now—there shall be a new recompense. I am going to bring whatever I can find there for your supper. You have not had any dinner to-day, have you? and now I think you must be hungry."

"Yes, I am; I see that I am, now that you have reminded me of it," said Viéra Pavlovna, laughing heartily.

Rakhmétof brought the cold victuals which were left over from his dinner. Masha showed him the cheese, and a jar of mushrooms. The lunch was very excellent. He set the table for her, and did everything himself.

"Do you see, Rakhmétof, how ravenously I am eating? That shows that I was hungry; and I had not felt it before, and I had forgotten about myself, and not about Masha alone. So you see I am not such an ill-conditioned criminal as you thought."

"Neither am I such a miracle for taking care of others. When I remembered your appetite for you, I myself wanted something to eat; I did not have much for dinner. I suppose I ate enough to fill anybody else up to the eyes, for a dinner and a half; but you know how much I eat—enough for two muzhiks."

"Akh! Rakhmétof, you were a good angel, and not for my appetite alone. But why did you sit there all day, and not show me that note? Why did you torment me so long?"

"The reason was a very sensible one. It was necessary for others to see in what distress you were, so that the news about your terrible trouble should be carried around, so as to confirm the fact which caused you the trouble. You would not want to make believe. Yes, and it is impossible to make anybody's nature different from what it is; nature acts more vigorously. Now, there are three ways by which the fact will be confirmed,—Masha, Mertsálova, and Rachel. Mertsálova is a particularly important source. She will be enough to take the news to all your friends. I was very glad that you thought of sending for her."

"How shrewd you are, Rakhmétof!"

"Yes, that was not a bad thought—to wait till it was night; but it was not my thought. That was Dmitri Sergéitch's own idea."

"How kind he was!"

Viéra Pavlovna sighed; but, to tell the truth, she sighed not from grief, but from gratefulness.

"Eh! Viéra Pavlovna, we shall yet pick him to pieces. Lately he has thought of things very cleverly, and acted very well. But we shall find little faults in him, and very big ones, too."

"Don't dare to speak so about him, Rakhmétof! I shall get angry."

"Do you mutiny? There's a punishment for this. Shall I keep on executing you? for the list of your crimes has only begun."

"Execute me! execute me, Rakhmétof!"

"For your humility, a reward. Humility is always rewarded. You must certainly have a bottle of wine. It will not be bad for you to drink some. Where shall I find it? on the sideboard or in the cupboard?"

"On the sideboard."

On the sideboard he found a bottle of sherry. Rakhmétof compelled Viéra Pavlovna to drink two glasses, and he himself lighted a cigar.

"How sorry I am that I cannot drink three or four glasses; I should like it."

"Do you really like it, Rakhmétof?"

"I envy you, Viéra Pavlovna, I envy you," said he, laughing; "man is weak."

"Are you weak? Thank God! But, Rakhmétof, you surprise me. You are not at all like what I supposed you were. Why are you always such a gloomy monster? But now you are a lovely, jovial man."

"Viéra Pavlovna, I am now fulfilling a pleasant duty; so why should I not be happy? But this is a rare occasion. As a general rule, you see things about you that are not happy. How can you help being a gloomy monster? Only, Viéra Pavlovna, as you happen to see me in a mood such as I would like to be in all the time, and since there is such frankness between us, let it be a secret that I am not by my own will a gloomy monster. It is easier for me to fulfil my duty when I am not noticed, because I myself would like to fulfil my duty and still be happy in life. Now people do not try to entertain me any more, and I do not have to waste my time by refusing invitations. But that you may the more easily imagine me nothing else than a gloomy monster, it will be necessary to continue the inquisition of your crimes."

"But why do you want to find more? You have already found two: heartlessness toward Masha and heartlessness towards the shop; I confess it."

"Indifference to Masha is only a error, not a great crime. Masha has not been lost by rubbing her sleepy eyes an hour longer; on the contrary, she did it with the pleasant consciousness of fulfilling her duty; but for the shop, I really want to torture you."[46]

"Yes, but you have already tortured me."

"Not entirely; I want to finish it. How could you dare to give it out at the risk of its destruction?"

"But I have confessed already that I have not given out; Mertsálof promised to take my place."

"We have already said that your intention of putting her in your place was not a sufficient excuse, but by this remark you have only pleaded guilty to a new crime." Rakhmétof again gradually assumed a serious, though not a gloomy, tone. "You say that she takes your place; is that decided?"

"Yes," said Viéra Pavlovna, without her former jocular tone, anticipating that something really bad might result from this.

"Just look here. By whom was the matter decided? by you and by her, without any inquiry whether those fifty people would consent to the change or not, or whether they wanted somebody else, or might not find somebody else better? This is despotism, Viéra Pavlovna. So here are two great crimes on your part: heartlessness and despotism! but the third one is still more cruel. The establishment which, to a greater or less degree, corresponded with sound ideas of managing life, which should serve as a more or less important corroboration of their practicability—but practical proofs are so few, and every one of them is so valuable—this establishment you have subjected to the risk of going to destruction, of bringing it from a practical proof into an affidavit of impracticability; a refutation of your convictions, a means of showing the uselessness of ideas, which ought to be proved of real benefit to humanity. You have afforded the upholders of darkness and wickedness an argument against your holy principles. Now I am not speaking at all about the fact that you are going to injure the welfare of fifty people. What does fifty people mean? You have injured the chances of humanity; you have proved to be a traitor against progress. This, Viéra Pavlovna, in the language of the Church, is called a sin against the Holy Ghost,—a sin about which is said that any other sin may be forgiven to a person, but this, never, never. Isn't it true that you are a criminal? But it is well that every thing has ended as it has, and that your sins were committed only in your imagination; but, however, you are really blushing, Viéra Pavlovna. Good! I will give you some consolation. If you were not suffering so keenly, you would not have committed such horrible crimes, even in your imagination. Consequently the real criminal in things is the one who has caused you so much trouble; but you keep repeating, 'How kind he was! how kind he was!'"

"How do you make out that he is to blame for my suffering?"

"Who else? In regard to all this he has done well; I do not deny it; but why did it happen? Why all this disturbance? Nothing of the sort should have happened!"

"No, I oughtn't to have had this feeling, but I didn't ask for it; I did my best to overcome it."

"That sounds well, 'ought not to have had it'! The real cause of your sin you have not perceived; and, for what you are not to blame at all, you reproach yourself. This feeling was bound infallibly to arise as soon as your nature and Dmitri Sergéitch's came into contact; if not one way, then another, it would have been developed anyhow; for the root of the feeling does not lie in the fact that you love another; that is a consequence: the root of the feeling is the dissatisfaction with your former relations. In what form was this dissatisfaction bound to develop? If both you and he, or either one of you, had been people of no intelligence, not refined or even bad, it would have been developed in its usual form—a quarrel between husband and wife. You would have fought like cats and dogs, if both of you had been bad; or if one of you had been bad, one would have eaten the other up, and the other would have been eaten. At all events, there would have been a domestic galleys, such as we are pleased to see almost universally in married life; and this, of course, would not have prevented the development of love for another; but the main thing would be the galleys, and the eating each other up. Your dissatisfaction could not have taken such a form, because both of you were enlightened people, and therefore it was developed in only its easiest, gentlest, and least offensive form,—love towards another. Consequently there is no use in talking about love to another; that is not the main trouble at all. The essence of the matter lies in your dissatisfaction with your former position, and the cause of this dissatisfaction was the discordance of your characters. Both of you were good people, but after your character became mature, Viéra Pavlovna, and lost its childish indefiniteness, and acquired definite features, it proved that you and Dmitri Sergéitch were not very well adapted to each other. Is there anything reprehensible in either of you? Now, for example, I also am a decent man, but could you get along with me? You would hang yourself with weariness of me; how long do you suppose it would take you to come to that point?"

"A very few days," said Viéra Pavlovna, laughing.

"He was not such a gloomy monster as I am, yet you and he are quite too little adapted to each other. Who ought to have noticed it first? Who was the older? Whose character settled sooner? Who had the more experience in life? He ought to have foreseen it, and have prepared your mind so that you would not get alarmed or worry; but he understood it only when the feeling, which he ought to have expected and did not expect, was developed; but when the feeling resulting from the other feeling developed, then he perceived it. Why had he not foreseen and noticed it? Was he stupid? He had enough sense for that. No; it was from inattention, from carelessness. He neglected his duties toward you, Viéra Pavlovna; that is the case; and you are declaring that he was kind, that he loved you." Rakhmétof, gradually becoming excited, spoke with feeling; but Viéra Pavlovna stopped him.

"I must not listen to you, Rakhmétof," she said, in a tone of extreme dissatisfaction. "You are pouring reproaches upon a man to whom I am endlessly indebted."

"No, Viéra Pavlovna; if there had been no necessity of my saying that, I should not have said it. Did I notice it to-day only for the first time? Could I have said it if I had seen it only to-day for the first time? You know that it is impossible to avoid a conversation with me, if I think a conversation is necessary. Indeed, I could have told you this long ago, but I held my peace. So if I speak now, it is because it is necessary to speak. I do not say anything before it is necessary. You saw how I kept the note ten hours in my pocket, though it was pitiful to look at you; but it was necessary not to speak, and I did not speak. Consequently, if I speak now, it shows that I thought long ago about Dmitri Sergéitch's relations towards you; thus, of course, it was necessary to speak about them."

"No, I do not want to listen," said Viéra Pavlovna, greatly stirred. "I ask you to be silent, Rakhmétof. I beg of you to go. I am very much obliged to you for wasting an evening on my account, but I beg you to leave me."

"Are you in earnest?"

"In earnest."

"Very well," he said laughing. "It's all right, Viéra Pavlovna, but you cannot get rid of me so easily; I foresaw that this would happen and I provided for it. The little note which I burned up, he wrote of his own accord; but this he wrote according to my request; this I can leave in your hands because it is not a proof. Here it is."

Rakhmétof gave Viéra Pavlovna this note:—

"Twenty-third of July; two o'clock in the morning. Dear friend Viérotchka, listen to everything that Rakhmétof will have to say to you. I do not know what he wants to tell you; I have not authorized him to say anything; he has not given me the least hint that he wants to speak to you, but i know that he never says anything but what he thinks is necessary. Yours, D. L."

Viéra Pavlovna kissed this note, God knows how many times.

"Why didn't you let me have it before. You probably have something else of his?"

"No, I have nothing more, because nothing more was necessary. Why didn't I let you have it? Until there was necessity, there was no need of giving it to you."

"Bozhe moï! Why so? For the sake of my own pleasure in having some lines from him, now that he has gone from me!"

"Well, if it was only for that reason, nu, that was not very important." He smiled.

"Akh, Rakhmétof, you want to tease me!"

"So this note is going to serve as another quarrel between us, is it?" he said, laughing again. "If that is the case, I shall take it away from you and burn it up, for you know that it is said about such people as you and me, that we consider nothing holy, for we are capable of all murderous deeds of violence. But how is it? may I continue?"

They both grew a little more subdued; she, on account of having seen the note; he, because he had been sitting a few minutes in silence while she was kissing it.

"Yes; I am obliged to listen."

"He did not notice that which he ought to have noticed," continued Rakhmétof, in a calm tone of voice, "and this brought about bad consequences. But if he could not be blamed for not having noticed it, still he could not be excused for it either. Let us suppose that he did not know that this was bound unavoidably to arise from the very nature of the given relations between your character and his, still he ought, at all events, to have given you some preparation for something of the kind, simply as a thing that might happen, which is not desirable and which it is not necessary to expect, but which still may arise; no one can guarantee what occurrences the future may bring. This axiom, that there are a good many contingencies, he certainly knew. How did he leave you in this state of mind, that when this happened you were not prepared for it? The very fact that he did not foresee it resulted only from neglectfulness which was insulting to you, but in itself is a matter of no importance, not a bad one, not a good one. That he did not prepare you at all for any such event came about from a very, very bad motive. Of course he acted unconsciously, but a man's nature is betrayed in those things which are done unconsciously. To prepare you for it would have been contradictory to his interests. But if you had been prepared, your resistance to the feeling which was contradictory to his interests would have been less violent. There was always such a strong feeling in you that the most energetic resistance on your part was useless, but it is a matter of mere chance that the feeling appealed in such a strength. If it had been caused by a man less deserving, but still a decent man, it would have been weaker. Such strong feelings, against which all struggles are useless, are rare exceptions. Many more are the chances for the appearance of feelings which it is possible to conquer, if the strength of the resistance is not weakened entirely. Now for these most likely chances he did not want to weaken your powers of resistance. And this is the motive that he had in leaving you unprepared and subjecting you to so much suffering. How does this strike you?"

"It is not true, Rakhmétof. He has never hidden from me any of his thoughts. His convictions were as well known to me as they were to you."

"Of course, Viéra Pavlovna, to hide them would have been too much. To interfere with the development of your convictions, so as to gratify his own convictions, and for this reason to make believe think differently from what he really thinks,—this would have been an absolutely dishonorable thing. Such a man you could never love. Did I call him a bad man? He was a very good man; in what respect was he not good? Yes, I shall praise him to your heart's content. I only say that before this matter arose: after it arose, he behaved towards you very nobly; but before it arose, he acted unkindly towards you. Why did you torment yourself so? He said—and then there was no need of saying it, because it was self-evident—that you did it, so that you might not grieve him. How could this thought have occurred to you, that this would greatly grieve him? You ought not to have had such an idea. What kind of grief was that? It was stupid. What kind of jealousy is that?"

"Don't you recognize such a thing as jealousy, Rakhmétof?"

"In an intelligent person it has no right to exist. It is a mutilated feeling, it is a false feeling, a contemptible feeling; it is the result of that order of things, according to which I don't allow anybody to wear my underclothes, smoke my meerschaum; this is the result of viewing a person as personal property, as a chattel."

"But, Rakhmétof, if jealousy should not be acknowledged, then there would be a horrible state of things."

"For him who feels it there are horrible things, but for the one who does not feel it there is nothing horrible, or even important."

"But you are advocating an absolute immorality, Rakhmétof."

"Does it seem to you so, after living with him four years? In this respect he is to blame. How often do you dine every day? Once? Would anybody be offended if you dined twice? Of course not. Then why don't you do so? Is it because you are afraid of offending some one? In all probability, it is simply because you do not need it, because you do not care to. But a dinner is an agreeable thing. But reason, and principally the stomach, says, that one dinner is agreeable and the second may be disagreeable. But if you have a fancy or a morbid desire to dine twice a day, would you have been kept from it by your fear of offending somebody? No; if any one were offended, or forbade you to do it, you would only do it secretly; you would begin to eat the dishes in a bad style, you would soil your hands by your hurried seizing of the food, you would soil your dress by hiding victuals in your pockets, and that's all. The question here has nothing whatsoever to do with morality or immorality, but only whether the contraband is a good thing. Who has the idea that jealousy is a feeling worthy of respect and mercy, that the feeling says, "Akh! when I do this, I shall offend him'; and whom does it compel to suffer vainly in the strife? Only a few of the most noble, for whom it is impossible to fear that their nature would draw them into immorality. For the rest are not restrained by this nonsense, but are simply driven to be cunning, deceitful; that is, it makes them really bad. That is all. Is this not well known to you?"

"Of course it is."

"Now, how, henceforth, can you find any moral advantage in jealousy?"

"Yes, but we ourselves always used to speak together in this spirit."

"Probably not absolutely in this sense of the word, or you spoke words, but did not believe each other, when you heard these words on each other's tongue; and of course you really did not believe, because you constantly heard about other subjects, and maybe this very subject, words in a different sense; else why should you have suffered so long?—God knows how long! And for what reason? and from what nonsense what a great rumpus! How much trouble for all three, and particularly for you, Viéra Pavlovna! Meantime, you all three might have lived together very calmly, just as you did afterwards for a year; or, somehow, you might have arranged to move into one apartment, or to have arranged it otherwise, however it might happen, only without the least trouble. In accordance with your former style, to drink tea all three together, and, as before, to go to the opera all three together. Why, then, this suffering? Why this catastrophe? All this because there was left in your mind, thanks to his bad method of preparing you for it, the thought, 'I am killing him,' which was entirely a fancy. Yes; he caused you entirely too much worriment."

"No, Rakhmétof; you are speaking terrible things."

"Again 'terrible things'! Terrible to me are the awful sufferings from trifles and unnecessary catastrophes."

"And so, then, according to your view, all our history is a stupid melodrama."

"Yes; an entirely unnecessary melodrama, with an entirely unnecessary tragedy; and for the fact that, instead of a simple conversation of the calmest tenor, arose an exciting melodrama, Dmitri Sergéitch is to blame. His honest style of action in regard to it is hardly sufficient for covering his fault in not averting this melodrama, by preparing you and himself for very calm views in regard to all this, as a mere piece of nonsense, for which it is not worth while to drink one glass of tea more, or not to finish your glass of tea. He was very much to blame. Nu, but he has paid dearly enough for it. Drink one more glass of sherry, and go to bed. I have now reached the final purpose of my call. It is already three o'clock. If no one wakes you, you will sleep very long; and I told Masha not to wake you before half-past ten, so that to-morrow you will hardly have time enough to drink your tea; you will have to hurry to the railroad station. If you do not have time to put away all the things, it will not make any difference, for you will either return soon, or they will send them to you. What do you think is best to be done? Shall Aleksandr Matvéitch go after you, or will you return by yourself? It would be hard for you and Masha now, for it would not do for her to notice that you are entirely calm. And how could she notice it during the half an hour of hasty preparations? Mertsálova would be a great deal worse. But I will go to see her early in the morning, and tell her that she had better not come here, because you have not slept much, and you ought not to be wakened, but that she had better go straight to the station."

"How much care you take for me," said Viéra Pavlovna.

"Don't, at least, ascribe this to him; it is of my own accord. But, except that which I reproach him for, as regards the things of the past (to his own face I told him more things. and more emphatically), except the fact that he was entirely to blame for the arising of this vain suffering, he behaved like a hero."



"Now tell me, O sapient reader, why Rakhmétof was introduced,[47] who has now vanished, and will not appear again in my story? I have already told thee that this figure has no part in my story—"

"That is not true," says the sapient reader, interrupting me. "Rakhmétof is an important character, for he brought a note from which—"

"Thou art very poor, my dear sir, in æsthetical judgments, of which thou art so fond," say I, interrupting him in my turn. "At this rate, according to your opinion, then Masha, also, is an important character, is she not? At the very beginning of the story, she, also, brought a letter, which startled Viéra Pavlovna. And is Rachel also an important character? for she advanced the money, without which Viéra Pavlovna would not have been able to leave. And is Professor N. an important character, because he recommended Viéra Pavlovna to Mrs. B., without which there would not have been any scene on returning from the Konno-Gvardéïsky Boulevard? Possibly the Konno-Gvardéïsky Boulevard is an active character also. How is it? Because without it there wouldn't have been any stage for the interview while returning from it. And the Gorokhovaïa Street would certainly be the most important main character, because without it there would be no houses standing on it, and so Storeshnikof's house would not be there; consequently there would be no manager of it, and the manager would not have any daughter, and then there would be no story at all. Well [nu], let us grant that, according to your opinion, all of these are active characters,—the Konno-Gvardéïsky Boulevard, and Masha, and Rachel, and the Gorokhovaïa Street. But only half a dozen words are said about them, or even less, because their action is of such a nature that they are not worth more than half a dozen words; but see how many pages have been given to Rakhmétof."

"Ah! now I know," says the sapient reader; "Rakhmétof was introduced for the sake of pronouncing the sentence on Viéra Pavlovna and Lopukhóf. He was necessary for the talk with Viéra Pavlovna."

"O how dull you are, my dear sir! You are quite wrong in your judgment. Was it necessary to introduce an extraordinary man just for the purpose of telling his opinion about other people? For such necessities, maybe, your great artists may introduce people into their works and take them away again; but I, though I am a wretched writer, still somewhat better understand the conditions of the artistic. No; my dear sir; Rakhmétof is not at all necessary for this purpose. How many times have not Viéra Pavlovna, Lopukhóf, and Kirsánof by themselves expressed the opinion about their actions and relations? They are not stupid people; they are able to judge for themselves what is good and what is bad, and therefore for this do not need a prompter. Do you really think that Viéra Pavlovna herself, when at leisure after a few days, would remember the past confusion and not condemn her forgetfulness about the interests of the shop just as Rakhmétof had done? And don't you think that Lopukhóf himself thought about his relations in exactly the same way as Rakhmétof told Viéra Pavlovna? He had thought it all over. Honorable people themselves think about themselves, all that can be said to their discredit, and so, my dear sir, these are honorable people; didn't you know it? You are very ignorant, my dear sir, in regard to what honorable people think about themselves. I shall tell you further. Do you really suppose that Rakhmétof, in this conversation with Viéra Pavlovna, acted independently of Lopukhóf? No, my dear sir; he was only a tool for Lopukhóf, and he himself understood that he was only Lopukhóf's tool, and Viéra Pavlovna understood it also in a day or two, and she would have guessed it the very moment that Rakhmétof opened his mouth had she not been too much excited; that was really the state of things. Did not you really understand it? Of course Lopukhóf, in his second note, said, very truly, that he had not spoken a word to Rakhmétof, nor Rakhmétof to him, in regard to the character of the conversation to take place between Viéra Pavlovna and Rakhmétof. But Lopukhóf knew Rakhmétof very well and what Rakhmétof thinks about a certain matter and what Rakhmétof would say in regard to this certain matter, for honorable people understand each other without having any explanation beforehand. Lopukhóf might have written down beforehand almost every word that Rakhmétof was going to say to Viéra Pavlovna, and therefore that was the very reason that he asked Rakhmétof to be the mediator. Shall I not introduce you a little deeper into psychological mysteries? Lopukhóf very well knew everything which Rakhmétof, and he himself thought about himself, and what Mertsálof thought, and what Mrs. Mertsálova thought, and what the officer who wrestled with him at the picnic on the islands thought, and what Viéra Pavlovna would come to think about him, even if no one had told her about it. She would have quickly seen it as soon as the first access of gratefulness had passed; consequently, Lopukhóf calculated: 'I shall lose nothing by sending Rakhmétof to her, though he will blame me; for she herself would surely come to have just the same opinion of me. On the contrary, I shall rise in her estimation, for she will soon come to see that I foresaw Rakhmétof's conversation with her, and that I arranged for this conversation and why I arranged it, and so she will think: "What a splendid fellow he is! He knew that in the first days of my excitement, my gratefulness towards him would overwhelm me with its exaltations, and he took care that in my mind should enter as soon as possible thoughts which would make my trial easier for me; and though I was angry at Rakhmétof for his blaming him, yet I understood that in reality Rakhmétof spoke the truth. I myself should have come to that idea in a week; but by that time it would not be important to me, for I should have found peace without it, and for the reason that these thoughts were expressed to me the very first day I got rid of my mental burden, which I should otherwise have borne a whole week. That day these thoughts were very important for me and useful for me. Yes, he was a very noble man."'

"This was a game that Lopukhóf arranged, and Rakhmétof was only his tool. Do you see, my dear sir? O sapient reader, how cunning these noble people are, and how egotism plays with them. Not as with you, my dear sir; because they find satisfaction, not as you do, my dear sir. They, as you see, find their highest satisfaction in having the people whom they respect think about them as noble people, and for this reason, my dear sir, they took trouble to play all kinds of games, not less energetically than you do for your own private ends; but your aims are different, and therefore the games that you and they bring about are not of the same character. You think of mean things which are injurious for others, but they think of those which are advantageous for others."

"Now, how do you dare to treat me in such a way?" exclaims the sapient reader, addressing me. "I shall bring a lawsuit against you for this; I shall proclaim you an unreliable man."

"Have mercy, my dear sir," I reply; "I dare to tell you such things because I have such lofty respect for your character as well as for your brains. And I only have the audacity to enlighten you in regard to the artistic, of which you are so fond. You are mistaken in regard to this, my dear sir, in supposing that Rakhmétof was introduced purposely for announcing the sentence upon Viéra Pavlovna and Lopukhóf. There was no such necessity in the thoughts which you expressed about them. There is nothing of the kind which I could not have imparted to you, my dear sir, as the thoughts of Lopukhóf in regard to himself, and as thoughts which, without Rakhmétof, Viéra Pavlovna herself would have had about Lopukhóf. Now, my dear sir, here is a question for you, Why do I relate to you this conversation between Rakhmétof and Viéra Pavlovna? Do you understand now that if I am imparting to you, not the thoughts of Lopukhóf and his Viéra Pavlovna, but the conversation between Rakhmétof and Viéra Pavlovna, then why it was necessary to impart not only these thoughts, which constituted the essence of their conversation, but the conversation itself? Why was it necessary to impart to you this conversation? Because it was a conversation between Rakhmétof and Viéra Pavlovna. Do you understand now? Not yet? You're a fine fellow! You are bad as far as understanding goes, very bad. Nu! I am going to chew it for you. When two people speak, then from the conversation can be gathered, to a greater or less degree, the character of these two people. Now, do you see where this is leading you? Was Viéra Pavlovna's character sufficiently known to you before this conversation took place? It was; you have learned nothing new about her; you knew already that she was hot-tempered, that she was fond of jesting, that she never failed to eat with appetite, and could even drink a glass of sherry; consequently, the conversation was not needed to characterize Viéra Pavlovna: but whom then? There are two who speak,—she and Rakhmétof. It is not to characterize her; guess, then, who is it."

"Rakhmétof!" exclaims the sapient reader.

"Well,[48] you are a fine fellow, and I like you for it. So you see that it is entirely contrary to what you thought before. Rakhmétof was not introduced for the sake of carrying on the conversation, but the conversation was imparted to you for the sake of making you better acquainted with Rakhmétof. From this conversation you saw that Rakhmétof would like to drink sherry, though he does not take it. That Rakhmétof is not an absolutely gloomy monster, that, on the contrary, on pleasant occasions, he forgets his sorrowful humors, his burning grief, that then he jokes, and talks gayly, although he says it is very rarely that 'I do it,' and he says, that 'is bitter to me that I do it so rarely'; he says, 'I, myself, am not glad that I am such a gloomy monster, but my circumstances are such that a man, with such a burning love for the good, cannot help being a gloomy monster'; 'And if it were not for this,' he says, 'I should probably joke, and laugh, and sing, and leap, all day.'

"Have you understood, now, sapient reader, that although a good many pages have been devoted to the fair description of the sort of man that Rakhmétof was, yet, in reality, still more pages have been devoted exclusively for the same purpose of making you acquainted with the very same person, who is not at all an active character in my novel? Tell me now, why this figure was brought out and introduced, and so minutely described? Do you remember I said then, 'It is exclusively for satisfying the main demand of the artistic'? Think! how does it seem, and how is it satisfied by placing before you Rakhmétof's figure? Was it hard for you? Have you succeeded in finding out? and yet, how could you? Well,[48] listen, or rather, don't listen; you will not understand it. Leave me alone; I have amused myself enough at your expense. I am going to speak now not to you, but the public and I am going to speak seriously.

"The first demand of the artistic is this: it is necessary so to picture things that the reader may see them in their true light. For example, if I want to draw a picture of a house, then I must reach that excellence of drawing that it may look to the reader as a house only, not as a little hut or as a palace. If I want to picture an ordinary man, then I must be able to draw him in such a way that he will not appear to the reader either as a dwarf or as a giant.

"I wanted to picture ordinary decent people of the rising generation, people whom I meet by the hundreds; I took three such people, Viéra Pavlovna, Lopukhóf, and Kirsánof. I look upon them as ordinary people; they look upon themselves in the same way, and all their acquaintances and friends, who are also such people as they are, look upon them in the same way. Where have I spoken about them in any other spirit? What have I said about them that contradicted this? I introduced them with love and respect, because every honorable man is worthy of love and respect; but where have I bowed on my knees before them? Where does the least shadow of a thought show itself in my novel that they are God-knows-how high and beautiful characters, that I can imagine nothing higher and better than they are? that they are ideals of people? As I think of them, so they act for me; not more than ordinary honorable people of the rising generation. What do they do that is wonderful? They don't do any mean things; they are not cowards; they have ordinary honest convictions; they try to act in accordance with them, and that's all. What a heroism in reality! Yes, I wanted to represent people who act like ordinary people of their type, and I hope that I have succeeded in so doing. Those readers who accurately know live people of this type, I hope, have constantly seen, from the very first, that the main heroes of my story are not at all ideals, but are people not at all higher than the general level of people of their own type; that every one of my readers who belongs to their type has undergone two or three occurrences, in which he has acted not worse than my characters have acted. Let us suppose that other honorable people have had exactly such experiences as I have related. In this there is absolutely no going to extremes, and the idea that all wives and husbands should part is not presented as a charming ideal; for not every honorable woman feels a passionate love for her husband's best friend, and not every honorable man wrestles with passion for a married woman, and for three years at that; and moreover, not everybody is driven to commit suicide on the bridge, or to use the words of the sapient reader, to go away somewhere from that hotel. But no honorable man would consider it a heroic deed to act in the situation of those here described, exactly as they acted, but all would be ready to do, if there were any necessity for doing it, and many a time they have acted in situations not less, but probably more, difficult, but still have not looked upon themselves as extraordinary people, but each has said to himself, 'I am a commonplace man, a pretty honorable man, that's all there is of it.' And the good friends of such a man (all such good people as he himself is—for with others he has nothing to do in the way of friendship) also think in regard to him that he is a fine man, but they do not think of falling on their knees before him, but they say to themselves, 'We are just such people as he is.' I hope I have succeeded in reaching this point that every honorable man of the rising generation will recognize an ordinary type of his good acquaintances in my three principal characters.

"But these people, who from the very first beginning of my story will think about my Viéra Pavlovna, Kirsánof, and Lopukhóf, 'Well, now [nu da], these are my good acquaintances, simple, ordinary people, like ourselves'; people who think so, I say, about my three leading characters, constitute the minority of the public. The majority is a great deal lower than this type. A man who never saw anything but little huts, would take an ordinary house drawn upon a piece of paper to be a palace. How can you go to work with such a person to show him that it is a house and not a palace? It is necessary on the same paper to draw at least a small corner of a palace; by this corner he will see that the palace must be something of quite different proportions from the structure which was represented on the paper, and that this structure must be only a simple, ordinary house, in which, or even in better ones, every one ought to live. Had I not shown Rakhmétof's figure, the majority of my readers would have lost their senses of proportion in regard to the main characters of my story. I will wager that till the last part of this chapter, Viéra Pavlovna, Kirsánof, and Lopukhóf have seemed to the majority of the public as heroes, as persons of the highest nature, as even persons idealized, maybe, people such as it is not possible to find in real life, on account of their too grand nobility. No, my friends, my mean, bad, pitiful friends, it did not appear to you in the right way. It is not they that stand so high, but you that stand so low. Now you see that they are standing on the earth. If they appear to you flying in the clouds, it is because you are sitting in the bottom of a den; on the height upon which they stand all people can stand, and must. The highest natures, which you and I cannot attain, my pitiable friends, are different. I have shown you a slight sketch of the profile of one of them; you see very different features. But those people who are completely described, you can reach unto, if you want to work over your self-development. Whoever is lower than they are is low. Lift yourselves up, my friends; lift yourselves up! It is not very hard. Go out into the free, white world! It is good to live in it, and the path is easy and inviting. Try it; culture! culture! Observe, think, read the works of those who tell you about the pure enjoyments of life, about the fact that a man can be kind and happy! Read them; they are books which fill the heart with joy. Observe life; for it is interesting to observe. Think; for it is delightful to think. That is all. No sacrifices are required; no deprivations are asked; they are not necessary. Desire to be happy! that is all; only this desire is wanted. And for this sake with delight watch over your development; there is happiness in it. Oh, what an enjoyment there is for a fully developed man! Even that which another may look upon as a sacrifice, as a sorrow, he feels to be a satisfaction to himself, an enjoyment; and how open his heart is to happiness, and how many enjoyments he has! Try it; it is good."

  1. Deneg-to stolko tchto kurui nyé kliuiut: a Russian proverb, literally meaning: they have so much money that the chickens will not pick it up.
  2. The Russian tchin, or hierarchy of rank, was established by Peter the Great. It consists of fourteen grades, with complicated titles in the civil, military, and marine service, the court, etc. The lowest title in the civil rank is "Collegiate Register," corresponding with cornet in the army. From the fourteenth to the seventh class in the army, from the ninth to the fourth in the civil service, personal nobility is attached. Above those grades nobility is hereditary. Any person who comes under this vast hierarchy is a tchinovnik.
  3. Nyekonsekventnosti, moderantizm, burzhuaznost.
  4. Diminutives of Aleksandr, as Nástenka is of Nastasia. The girl's name was Nastasia Borisovna Kriukova.
  5. One of Gogol's last acta was to burn up the concluding portion of his great story, "Dead Souls," the first part of which appeared in 1842. A few chapters of the second part were found after his death; but a certain Dr. Zakhartchenko, of Kief, wrote a conclusion, which was much ridiculed.
  6. Angiolina Bosio (born in Turin in 1829), a famous mezzo-soprano, who was immensely popular in Petersburg, where she died in 1859.
  7. Enrico Tamberlík, the famous tenore robusto.
  8. In the original, literally translated, "The hours of pleasure catch, catch; young years give to love," the words wrongly accented are mladuia [young] and lyéta [years].
  9. As has been said before, nearly all the characters of this story are supposed to be drawn from real life. Rakhmétof, whom we shall meet again further on, is considered by many Russians to be a true picture of Karakózof, who in 1866 attempted to assassinate the Emperor Alexander II.
  10. Druzhōtchek: literally, little friend. The Russian word drūg and its diminutives have the same force as the French ami and amie, which cannot he translated into English.
  11. Divantchik.
  12. Moï drūg.
  13. Moï milui.
  14. Moï drūg.
  15. Oprostovolositsa: literally, become dishevelled.
  16. Moï milui.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 Moï milui.
  18. Moï drūg.
  19. Moï milui.
  20. Moï milui.
  21. Moï drūg.
  22. 22.0 22.1 Moï drūg.
  23. Dō svidánya.
  24. Milui moï.
  25. Drūg moï.
  26. Dō svidánya, moi drūg.
  27. Torgovka.
  28. This title is given in English in the original.
  29. The ending vitch, contracted into uitch, itch, is equivalent to son in English, or Mac in Scotch. Kirill Kirilluitch therefore means, Cyril the son of Cyril.
  30. Okólnitchi.
  31. Shuválof was the minister and lover of the Empress Elizabeth, and founded the University of Moscow.
  32. The Medvyedítsa River rises in the province of Saratof, between the Don and the Volga.
  33. 18,900 acres.
  34. Pomyeshchik.
  35. Uyezdnui predvodítel.
  36. Sovyetnik.
  37. Burlak, a rough boatman on the Volga. The name is often synonymous with boor.
  38. In the original, fifteen vershoks: a vershok is an inch and three-fourths.
  39. Khozyáïka.
  40. Tchernuishevsky's acumen as a critic is seen by this anticipation of the world's judgment of Macaulay and Dickens.
  41. Tchudak.
  42. Proshchaïte.
  43. Half a vershók.
  44. Pomyeshchik.
  45. Perhaps better translated, "to leave the stage."
  46. Gruizt vas, literally, to chew you up.
  47. Literally, brought out.
  48. 48.0 48.1 "Nu."