Page:The Novels of Ivan Turgenev (volume V).djvu/81

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

letter of the good father as a document.' Litvinov ran through this document with curiosity. In it was set forth: 'that the serving-man Nicanor Dmitriev was beset with a malady which could not be touched by the medical faculty; and this malady was the work of wicked people; but he himself, Nicanor, was the cause of it, since he had not fulfilled his promise to a certain girl, and therefore by the aid of others she had made him unfit for anything, and if I had not appeared to aid him in these circumstances, he would surely have perished utterly, like a worm; but I, trusting in the All-seeing Eye, have become a stay to him in his life; and how I accomplished it, that is a mystery; I beg your excellency not to countenance a girl who has such wicked arts, and even to chide her would be no harm, or she may again work him a mischief.'

Litvinov fell to musing over this document; it brought him a whiff of the desert, of the steppes, of the blind darkness of the life mouldering there, and it seemed a marvellous thing that he should be reading such a letter in Baden, of all places. Meanwhile it had long struck midnight; Litvinov went to bed and put out his light. But he could not get to sleep; the faces he had seen, the talk he had heard, kept coming back and revolving,