the adventure that befell us on the way was also a surprising one. But I mus_ell the story in due order. An hour before Stepan Trofimovitch and I came ou_nto the street, a crowd of people, the hands from Shpigulins' factory, seventy or more in number, had been marching through the town, and had been a_bject of curiosity to many spectators. They walked intentionally in goo_rder and almost in silence. Afterwards it was asserted that these seventy ha_een elected out of the whole number of factory hands, amounting to about nin_undred, to go to the governor and to try and get from him, in the absence o_heir employer, a just settlement of their grievances against the manager, who, in closing the factory and dismissing the workmen, had cheated them al_n an impudent waya fact which has since been proved conclusively. Some peopl_till deny that there was any election of delegates, maintaining that sevent_as too large a number to elect, and that the crowd simply consisted of thos_ho had been most unfairly treated, and that they only came to ask for help i_heir own case, so that the general "mutiny" of the factory workers, abou_hich there was such an uproar later on, had never existed at all. Other_iercely maintained that these seventy men were not simple strikers bu_evolutionists, that is, not merely that they were the most turbulent, bu_hat they must have been worked upon by seditious manifestoes. The fact is, i_s still uncertain whether there had been any outside influence or incitemen_t work or not. My private opinion is that the workmen had not read th_editious manifestoes at all, and if they had read them, would not hav_nderstood one word, for one reason because the authors of such literatur_rite very obscurely in spite of the boldness of their style. But as th_orkmen really were in a difficult plight and the police to whom they appeale_ould not enter into their grievances, what could be more natural than thei_dea of going in a body to "the general himself" if possible, with th_etition at their head, forming up in an orderly way before his door, and a_oon as he showed himself, all falling on their knees and crying out to him a_o providence itself? To my mind there is no need to see in this a mutiny o_ven a deputation, for it's a traditional, historical mode of action; th_ussian people have always loved to parley with "the general himself" for th_ere satisfaction of doing so, regardless of how the conversation may end.
And so I am quite convinced that, even though Pyotr Stepanovitch, Liputin, an_erhaps some othersperhaps even Fedka toohad been flitting about among th_orkpeople talking to them (and there is fairly good evidence of this), the_ad only approached two, three, five at the most, trying to sound them, an_othing had come of their conversation. As for the mutiny they advocated, i_he factory-workers did understand anything of their propaganda, they woul_ave left off listening to it at once as to something stupid that had nothin_o do with them. Fedka was a different matter: he had more success, I believe, than Pyotr Stepanovitch. Two workmen are now known for a fact to have assiste_edka in causing the fire in the town which occurred three days afterwards, and a month later three men who had worked in the factory were arrested fo_obbery and arson in the province. But if in these cases Fedka did lure the_o direct and immediate action, he could only have succeeded with these five, for we heard of nothing of the sort being done by others.
Be that as it may, the whole crowd of workpeople had at last reached the ope_pace in front of the governor's house and were drawn up there in silence an_ood order. Then, gaping open-mouthed at the front door, they waited. I a_old that as soon as they halted they took off their caps, that is, a goo_alf-hour before the appearance of the governor, who, as ill-luck would hav_t, was not at home at the moment. The police made their appearance at once, at first individual policemen and then as large a contingent of them as coul_e gathered together; they began, of course, by being menacing, ordering the_o break up. But the workmen remained obstinately, like a flock of sheep at _ence, and replied laconically that they had come to see "the genera_imself"; it was evident that they were firmly determined. The unnatura_houting of the police ceased, and was quickly succeeded by deliberations, mysterious whispered instructions, and stern, fussy perplexity, which wrinkle_he brows of the police officers. The head of the police preferred to awai_he arrival of the "governor himself." It was not true that he galloped to th_pot with three horses at full speed, and began hitting out right and lef_efore he alighted from his carriage. It's true that he used to dash about an_as fond of dashing about at full speed in a carriage with a yellow back, an_hile his trace-horses, who were so trained to carry their heads that the_ooked "positively perverted," galloped more and more frantically, rousing th_nthusiasm of all the shopkeepers in the bazaar, he would rise up in th_arriage, stand erect, holding on by a strap which had been fixed on purpos_t the side, and with his right arm extended into space like a figure on _onument, survey the town majestically. But in the present case he did not us_is fists, and though as he got out of the carriage he could not refrain fro_ forcible expression, this was simply done to keep up his popularity. Ther_s a still more absurd story that soldiers were brought up with bayonets, an_hat a telegram was sent for artillery and Cossacks; those are legends whic_re not believed now even by those who invented them. It's an absurd story, too, that barrels of water were brought from the fire brigade, and that peopl_ere drenched with water from them. The simple fact is that Ilya Ilyitc_houted in his heat that he wouldn't let one of them come dry out of th_ater; probably this was the foundation of the barrel legend which got int_he columns of the Petersburg and Moscow newspapers. Probably the mos_ccurate version was that at first all the available police formed a cordo_ound the crowd, and a messenger was sent for Lembke, a police superintendent, who dashed off in the carriage belonging to the head of the police on the wa_o Skvoreshniki, knowing that Lembke had gone there in his carriage half a_our before.
But I must confess that I am still unable to answer the question how the_ould at first sight, from the first moment, have transformed a_nsignificant, that is to say an ordinary, crowd of petitioners, even thoug_here were several of them, into a rebellion which threatened to shake th_oundations of the state. Why did Lembke himself rush at that idea when h_rrived twenty minutes after the messenger? I imagine (but again it's only m_rivate opinion) that it was to the interest of Ilya Ilyitch, who was a cron_f the factory manager's, to represent the crowd in this light to Lembke, i_rder to prevent him from going into the case; and Lembke himself had put th_dea into his head. In the course of the last two days, he had had two unusua_nd mysterious conversations with Mm. It is true they were exceedingl_bscure, but Ilya Ilyitch was able to gather from them that the governor ha_horoughly made up his mind that there were political manifestoes, and tha_hpigulins' factory hands were being incited to a Socialist rising, and tha_e was so persuaded of it that he would perhaps have regretted it if the stor_ad turned out to be nonsense. "He wants to get distinction in Petersburg,"
our wily Ilya Ilyitch thought to himself as he left Von Lembke; "well, tha_ust suits me."
But I am convinced that poor Andrey Antonovitch would not have desired _ebellion even for the sake of distinguishing himself. He was a mos_onscientious official, who had lived in a state of innocence up to the tim_f his marriage. And was it his fault that, instead of an innocent allowanc_f wood from the government and an equally innocent Minnchen, a princess o_orty summers had raised him to her level? I know almost for certain that th_nmistakable symptoms of the mental condition which brought poor Andre_ntonovitch to a well-known establishment in Switzerland, where, I am told, h_s now regaining his energies, were first apparent on that fatal morning. Bu_nce we admit that unmistakable signs of something were visible that morning, it may well be allowed that similar symptoms .may have been evident the da_efore, though not so clearly. I happen to know from the most private sources (well, you may assume that Yulia Mihailovna later on, not in triumph bu_lmost in remorsefor a woman is incapable of complete remorserevealed part o_t to me herself) that Andrey Antonovitch had gone into his wife's room in th_iddle of the previous night, past two o'clock in the morning, had waked he_p, and had insisted on her listening to his "ultimatum.'' He demanded it s_nsistently that she was obliged to get up from her bed in indignation an_url-papers, and, sitting down on a couch, she had to listen, though wit_arcastic disdain. Only then she grasped for the first time how far gone he_ndrey Antonovitch was, and was secretly horrified. She ought to have though_hat she was about and have been softened, but she concealed her horror an_as more obstinate than ever. Like every wife she had her own method o_reating Andrey Antonovitch, which she had tried more than once already an_ith it driven him to frenzy. Yulia Mihailovna's method was that o_ontemptuous silence, for one hour, two, a whole day. and almost for thre_ays and nightssilence whatever happened, whatever he said, whatever he did, even if he had clambered up to throw himself out of a three-story window_ethod unendurable for a sensitive man! Whether Yulia Mihailovna meant t_unish her husband for his blunders of the last few days and the jealous env_e, as the chief authority in the town, felt for her administrative abilities; whether she was indignant at his criticism of her behaviour with the youn_eople and local society generally, and lack of comprehension of her subtl_nd far-sighted political aims; or was angry with his stupid and senseles_ealousy of Pyotr Stepanovitchhowever that may have been, she made up her min_ot to be softened even now, in spite of its being three o'clock at night, an_hough Andrey Antonovitch was in a state of emotion such as she had never see_im in before.
Pacing up and down in all directions over the rugs of her boudoir, besid_imself, he poured out everything, everything, quite disconnectedly, it'_rue, but everything that had been rankling in his heart, for" it wa_utrageous." He began by saying that he was a laughing-stock to every one and
"was being led by the nose."
"Curse the expression," he squealed, at once catching her smile, "let i_tand, it's true… . No, madam, the time has come; let me tell you it's not _ime for laughter and feminine arts now. We are not in the boudoir of _incing lady, but like two abstract creatures in a balloon who have met t_peak the truth." (He was no doubt confused and could not find the right word_or his ideas, however just they were.) "It is you, madam, you who hav_estroyed my happy past. I took up this post simply for your sake, for th_ake of your ambition… . You smile sarcastically? Don't triumph, don't be in _urry. Let me tell you, madam, let me tell you that I should have been equa_o this position, and not only this position but a dozen positions like it, for I have abilities; but with you, madam, with youit's impossible, for wit_ou here I have no abilities. There cannot be two centres, and you hav_reated twoone of mine and one in your boudoirtwo centres of power, madam, bu_ won't allow it, I won't allow it! In the service, as in marriage, there mus_e one centre, two are impossible… . How have you repaid me?" he went on. "Ou_arriage has been nothing but your proving to me all the time, every hour, that I am a nonentity, a fool, and even a rascal, and I have been all th_ime, every hour, forced in a degrading way to prove to you that I am not _onentity, not a fool at all, and that I impress every one with my honourabl_haracter. Isn't that degrading for both sides?"
At this point he began rapidly stamping with both feet on the carpet, so tha_ulia Mihailovna was obliged to get up with stern dignity. He subside_uickly, but passed to being pathetic and began sobbing (yes, sobbing!), beating himself on the breast almost for five minutes, getting more and mor_rantic at Yulia Mihailovna's profound silence. At last he made a fata_lunder, and let slip that he was jealous of Pyotr Stepanovitch. Realisin_hat he had made an utter fool of himself, he became savagely furious, an_houted that he "would not allow them to deny God "and that he would" send he_alon of irresponsible infidels packing," that the governor of a province wa_ound to believe in God "and so his wife was too," that he wouldn't put u_ith these young men; that "you, madam, for the sake of your own dignity, ought to have thought of your husband and to have stood up for hi_ntelligence even if he were a man of poor abilities (and I'm by no means _an of poor abilities!), and yet it's your doing that every one here despise_e, it was you put them all up to it!" He shouted that he would annihilate th_oman question, that he would eradicate every trace of it, that to-morrow h_ould forbid and break up their silly fete for the benefit of the governesses (damn them!), that the first governess he came across to-morrow morning h_ould drive out of the province "with a Cossack! I'll make a point of it!" h_hrieked. "Do you know," he screamed, "do you know that your rascals ar_nciting men at the factory, and that I know it? Let me tell you, I know th_ames of four of these rascals and that I am going out of my mind, hopelessly, hopelessly! … "
But at this point Yulia Mihailovna suddenly broke her silence and sternl_nnounced that she had long been aware of these criminal designs, and that i_as all foolishness, and that he had taken it too seriously, and that as fo_hese mischievous fellows, she knew not only those four but all of them (i_as a lie); but that she had not the faintest intention of going out of he_ind on account of it, but, on the contrary, had all the more confidence i_er intelligence and hoped to bring it all to a harmonious conclusion: t_ncourage the young people, to bring them to reason, to show them suddenly an_nexpectedly that their designs were known, and then to point out to them ne_ims for rational and more noble activity.
Oh, how can I describe the effect of this on Andrey Antonovitch! Hearing tha_yotr Stepanovitch had duped him again and had made a fool of him so coarsely, that he had told her much more than he had told him, and sooner than him, an_hat perhaps Pyotr Stepanovitch was the chief instigator of all these crimina_esignshe flew into a frenzy. "Senseless but malignant woman," he cried, snapping his bonds at one blow, "let me tell you, I shall arrest you_orthless lover at once, I shall put him in fetters and send him to th_ortress, orI shall jump out of window before your eyes this minute!"
Yulia Mihailovna, turning green with anger, greeted this tirade at once with _urst of prolonged, ringing laughter, going off into peals such as one hear_t the French theatre when a Parisian actress, imported for a fee of a hundre_housand to play a coquette, laughs in her husband's face for daring to b_ealous of her.
Von Lembke rushed to the window, but suddenly stopped as though rooted to th_pot, folded his arms across his chest, and, white as a corpse, looked with _inister gaze at the laughing lady. "Do you know, Yulia, do you know," he sai_n a gasping and suppliant voice, "do you know that even I can do something?"
But at the renewed and even louder laughter that followed his last words h_lenched his ,teeth, groaned, and suddenly rushed, not towards the window, bu_t his spouse, with his fist raised! He did not bring it downno, I repea_gain and again, no; but it was the last straw. He ran to his own room, no_nowing what he was doing, flung himself, dressed as he was, face downwards o_is bed, wrapped himself convulsively, head and all, in the sheet, and lay s_or two hours incapable of sleep, incapable of thought, with a load on hi_eart and blank, immovable despair in his soul. Now and then he shivered al_ver with an agonising, feverish tremor. Disconnected and irrelevant thing_ept coming into his mind: at one minute he thought of the old clock whic_sed to hang on his wall fifteen years ago in Petersburg and had lost th_inute-hand; at another of the cheerful clerk, Millebois, and how they ha_nce caught a sparrow together in Alexandrovsky Park and had laughed so tha_hey could be heard all over the park, remembering that one of them wa_lready a college assessor. I imagine that about seven in the morning he mus_ave fallen asleep without being aware of it himself, and must have slept wit_njoyment, with agreeable dreams.
Waking about ten o'clock, he jumped wildly out of bed remembered everything a_nce, and slapped himself on the head; he refused his breakfast, and would se_either Blum nor the chief of the police nor the clerk who came to remind hi_hat he was expected to preside over a meeting that morning; he would liste_o nothing, and did not want to understand. He ran like one possessed to Yuli_ihailovna's part of the house. There Sofya Antropovna, an old lady of goo_amily who had lived for years with Yulia Mihailovna, explained to him tha_is wife had set off at ten o'clock that morning with a large company in thre_arriages to Varvara Petrovna Stavrogin's, to Skvoreshniki, to look over th_lace with a view to the second fete which was planned for a fortnight later, and that the visit to-day had been arranged with Varvara Petrovna three day_efore. Overwhelmed with this news, Andrey Antonovitch returned to his stud_nd impulsively ordered the horses. He could hardly wait for them to be go_eady. His soul was hungering for Yulia Mihailovnato look at her, to be nea_er for five minutes; perhaps she would glance at him, notice him, would smil_s before, forgive him … 0-oh!" Aren't the horses ready?" Mechanically h_pened a thick book lying on the table. (He sometimes used to try his fortun_n this way with a book, opening it at random and reading the three lines a_he top of the right-hand page.) What turned up was: "Tout est pour le mieu_ans le meilleur des mondes possibles." Voltaire, Candide. He uttered a_jaculation of contempt and ran to get into the carriage. "Skvoreshniki!"
The coachman said afterwards that his master urged him on all the way, but a_oon as they were getting near the mansion he suddenly told him to turn an_rive back to the town, bidding him "Drive fast; please drive fast!" Befor_hey reached the town wall "master told me to stop again, got out of th_arriage, and went across the road into the field; I thought he felt ill bu_e stopped and began looking at the flowers, and so he stood for a time. I_as strange, really; I began to feel quite uneasy." This was the coachman'_estimony. I remember the weather that morning: it was a cold, clear, bu_indy September day; before Andrey Antonovitch stretched a forbiddin_andscape of bare fields from which the crop had long been harvested; ther_ere a few dying yellow flowers, pitiful relics blown about by the howlin_ind. Did he want to compare himself and his fate with those wretched flower_attered by the autumn and the frost? I don't think so; in fact I feel sure i_as not so, and that he realised nothing about the flowers in spite of th_vidence of the coachman and of the police superintendent, who drove up a_hat moment and asserted afterwards that he found the governor with a bunch o_ellow flowers in his hand. This police superintendent, Flibusterov by name, was an ardent champion of authority who had only recently come to our town bu_ad already distinguished himself and become famous by his inordinate zeal, b_ certain vehemence in the execution of his duties, and his inveterat_nebriety. Jumping out of the carriage, and not the least disconcerted at th_ight of what the governor was doing, he blurted out all in one breath, with _rantic expression, yet with an air of conviction, that "There's an upset i_he town."
"Eh? What?" said Andrey Antonovitch, turning to him with a stern face, bu_ithout a trace of surprise or any recollection of his carriage and hi_oachman, as though he had been in his own study.
"Police-superintendent Flibusterov, your Excellency. There's a riot in th_own."
"Filibusters?" Andrey Antonovitch said thoughtfully.
"Just so, your Excellency. The Shpigulin men are making a riot."
"The Shpigulin men! … "
The name "Shpigulin" seemed to remind him of something. He started and put hi_inger to his forehead: "The Shpigulin men!" In silence, and still plunged i_hought, he walked without haste to the carriage, took his seat, and told th_oachman to drive to the town. The police-superintendent followed in th_roshky.
I imagine that he had vague impressions of many interesting things of al_orts on the way, but I doubt whether he had any definite idea or any settle_ntention as he drove into the open space in front of his house. But no soone_id he see the resolute and orderly ranks of "the rioters," the cordon o_olice, the helpless (and perhaps purposely helpless) chief of police, and th_eneral expectation of which he was the object, than all the blood rushed t_is heart. With a pale face he stepped out of his carriage.
"Caps off!" he said breathlessly and hardly audibly. "On your knees!" h_quealed, to the surprise of every one, to his own surprise too, and perhap_he very unexpectedness of the position was the explanation of what followed.
Can a sledge on a switchback at carnival stop short as it flies down the hill?
What made it worse, Andrey Antonovitch had been all his life serene i_haracter, and never shouted or stamped at anyone; and such people are alway_he most dangerous if it once happens that something sets their sledge slidin_ownhill. Everything was whirling before his eyes.
"Filibusters!" he yelled still more shrilly and absurdly, and his voice broke.
He stood, not knowing what he was going to do, but knowing and feeling in hi_hole being that he certainly would do something directly.
"Lord!" was heard from the crowd. A lad began crossing himself; three or fou_en actually did try to kneel down, but the whole mass moved three step_orward, and suddenly all began talking at once: "Your Excellency … we wer_ired for a term … the manager … you mustn't say," and so on and so on. It wa_mpossible to distinguish anything.
Alas! Andrey Antonovitch could distinguish nothing: the flowers were still i_is hands. The riot was as real to him as the prison carts were to Stepa_rofimovitch. And flitting to and fro in the crowd of "rioters" who gaze_pen-eyed at him, he seemed to see Pyotr Stepanovitch, who had egged them o_yotr Stepanovitch, whom he hated and whose image had never left him sinc_esterday.
"Rods!" he cried even more unexpectedly. A dead silence followed.
From the facts I have learnt and those I have conjectured, this must have bee_hat happened at the beginning; but I have no such exact information for wha_ollowed, nor can I conjecture it so easily. There are some facts, however.
In the first place, rods were brought on the scene with strange rapidity; the_ad evidently been got ready beforehand in expectation by the intelligen_hief of the police. Not more than two, or at most three, were actuall_logged, however; that fact I wish to lay stress on. It's an absolut_abrication to say that the whole crowd of rioters, or at least half of them, were punished. It is a nonsensical story, too, that a poor but respectabl_ady was caught as she passed by and promptly thrashed; yet I read myself a_ccount of this incident afterwards among the provincial items of a Petersbur_ewspaper. Many people in the town talked of an old woman called Avdoty_etrovna Tarapygin who lived in the almshouse by the cemetery. She, was said, on her way home from visiting a friend, to have forced her way into the crow_f spectators through natural curiosity. Seeing what was going on, she crie_ut, "What a shame!" and spat on the ground. For this it was said she had bee_eized and flogged too. This story not only appeared in print, but in ou_xcitement we positively got up a subscription for her benefit. I subscribe_wenty kopecks myself. And would you believe it? It appears now that there wa_o old woman called Tarapygin living in the almshouse at all! I went t_nquire at the almshouse by the cemetery myself; they had never heard o_nyone called Tarapygin there, and, what's more, they were quite offended whe_ told them the story that was going round. I mention this fabulous Avdoty_etrovna because what happened to her (if she really had existed) very nearl_appened to Stepan Trofimovitch. Possibly, indeed, his adventure may have bee_t the bottom of the ridiculous tale about the old woman, that is, as th_ossip went on growing he was transformed into this old dame.
What I find most difficult to understand is how he came to slip away from m_s soon as he got into the square. As I had a misgiving of something ver_npleasant, I wanted to take him round the square straight to the entrance t_he governor's, but my own curiosity was roused, and I stopped only for on_inute to question the first person I came across, and suddenly I looked roun_nd found Stepan Trofimovitch no longer at my side. Instinctively I darted of_o look for him in the most dangerous place; something made me feel that hi_ledge, too, was flying downhill. And I did, as a fact, find him in the ver_entre of things. I remember I seized him by the arm; but he looked quietl_nd proudly at me with an air of immense authority.
"Cher," he pronounced in a voice which quivered on a breaking note, "if the_re dealing with people so unceremoniously before us, in an open square, wha_s to be expected from that man, for instance … if he happens to act on hi_wn authority?"
And shaking with indignation and with an intense desire to defy them, h_ointed a menacing, accusing finger at Flibusterov, who was gazing at us open- eyed two paces away.
"That man!" cried the latter, blind with rage. "What man? And who are you?" H_tepped up to him, clenching his fist. "Who are you?" he roared ferociously, hysterically, and desperately. (I must mention that he knew Stepa_rofimovitch perfectly well by sight.) Another moment and he would hav_ertainly seized him by the collar; but luckily, hearing him shout, Lembk_urned his head. He gazed intensely but with perplexity at Stepa_rofimovitch, seeming to consider something, and suddenly he shook his han_mpatiently. Flibusterov was checked. I drew Stepan Trofimovitch out of th_rowd, though perhaps he may have wished to retreat himself.
"Home, home," I insisted; "it was certainly thanks to Lembke that we were no_eaten."
"Go, my friend; I am to blame for exposing you to this. You have a future an_ career of a sort before you, while Iman heure est sonnee."
He resolutely mounted the governor's steps. The hall-porter knew me; I sai_hat we both wanted to see Yulia Mihailovna.
We sat down in the waiting-room and waited. I was unwilling to leave m_riend, but I thought it unnecessary to say anything more to him. He had th_ir of a man who had consecrated himself to certain death for the sake of hi_ountry. We sat down, not side by side, but in different cornersI nearer t_he entrance, he at some distance facing me, with his head bent in thought, leaning lightly on his stick. He held his wide-brimmed hat in his left hand.
We sat like that for ten minutes.
Lembke suddenly came in with rapid steps, accompanied by the chief of police, looked absent-mindedly at us and, taking no notice of us, was about to pas_nto his study on the right, but Stepan Trofimovitch stood before him blockin_is way. The tall figure of Stepan Trofimovitch, so unlike other people, mad_n impression. Lembke stopped.
"Who is this?" he muttered, puzzled, as if he were questioning the chief o_olice, though he did not turn his head towards him, and was all the tim_azing at Stepan Trofimovitch.
"Retired college assessor, Stepan Trofimovitch Verhovensky, your Excellency,"
answered Stepan Trofimovitch, bowing majestically. His Excellency went o_taring at him with a very blank expression, however.
"What is it?" And with the curtness of a great official he turned his ear t_tepan Trofimovitch with disdainful impatience, taking him for an ordinar_erson with a written petition of some sort.
"I was visited and my house was searched to-day by an official acting in you_xcellency's name; therefore I am desirous … "
"Name? Name?" Lembke asked impatiently, seeming suddenly to have an inkling o_omething. Stepan Trofimovitch repeated his name still more majestically.
"A-a-ah! It's … that hotbed … You have shown yourself, sir, in such a light… .
Are you a professor? a professor?"
"I once had the honour of giving some lectures to the young men of the _niversity."
"The young men!" Lembke seemed to start, though I am ready to bet that h_rasped very little of what was going on or even, perhaps, did not know wit_hom he was talking.
"That, sir, I won't allow," he cried, suddenly getting terribly angry. "_on't allow young men! It's all these manifestoes? It's an assault on society, sir, a piratical attack, filibustering… . What is your request?"
"On the contrary, your wife requested me to read something to-morrow at he_ete. I've not come to make a request but to ask for my rights… ."
"At the fete? There'll be no fete. I won't allow your fete. A lecture? _ecture?" he screamed furiously.
"I should be very glad if you would speak to me rather more politely, you_xcellency, without stamping or shouting at me' as though I were a boy."
"Perhaps you understand whom you are speaking to?" said Lembke, turnin_rimson.
"Perfectly, your Excellency."
"I am protecting society while you are destroying it! … You … I remember abou_ou, though: you used to be a tutor in the house of Madame Stavrogin?"
"Yes, I was in the position … of tutor … in the house of Madame Stavrogin."
"And have been for twenty years the hotbed of all that has now accumulated … all the fruits… . I believe I saw you just now in the square. You'd bette_ook out, sir, you'd better look out; your way of thinking is well known. Yo_ay be sure that I keep my eye on you. I cannot allow your lectures, sir, _annot. Don't come with such requests to me."
He would have passed on again.
"I repeat that your Excellency is mistaken; it was your wife who asked me t_ive, not a lecture, but a literary reading at the fete to-morrow. But _ecline to do so in any case now. I humbly request that you will explain to m_f possible how, why, and for what reason I was subjected to an officia_earch to-day? Some of my books and papers, private letters to me, were take_rom me and wheeled through the town in a barrow."
"Who searched you?" said Lembke, starting and returning to full consciousnes_f the position. He suddenly flushed all over. He turned quickly to the chie_f police. At that moment the long, stooping, and awkward figure of Blu_ppeared in the doorway.
"Why, this official here," said Stepan Trofimovitch, indicating Mm. Blum cam_orward with a face that admitted his responsibility but showed no contrition.
"Vous ne faites que des beatises," Lembke threw at him in a tone of vexatio_nd anger, and suddenly he was transformed and completely himself again.
"Excuse me," he muttered, utterly disconcerted and turning absolutely crimson,
"all this … all this was probably a mere blunder, a misunderstanding … nothin_ut a misunderstanding."
"Your Excellency," observed Stepan Trofimovitch, "once when I was young I sa_ characteristic incident. In the corridor of a theatre a man ran up t_nother and gave him a sounding smack in the face before the whole public.
Perceiving at once that his victim was not the person whom he had intended t_hastise but some one quite different who only slightly resembled him, h_ronounced angrily, with the haste of one whose moments are preciousas you_xcellency did just now "I've made a mistake … excuse me, it was _isunderstanding, nothing but a misunderstanding.' And when the offended ma_emained resentful and cried out, he observed to him, with extreme annoyance:
'Why, I tell you it was a misunderstanding. What are you crying out about?'"
"That's … that's very amusing, of course"Lembke gave a wry smile" but … bu_an't you see how unhappy I am myself?"
He almost screamed, and seemed about to hide his face in .his hands.
This unexpected and piteous exclamation, almost a sob, was almost more tha_ne could bear. It was probably the first moment since the previous day tha_e had full, vivid consciousness of all that had happenedand it was followe_y complete, humiliating despair that could not be disguisedwho knows, i_nother minute he might have sobbed aloud. For the first moment Stepa_rofimovitch looked wildly at him; then he suddenly bowed his head and in _oice pregnant with feeling pronounced:
"Your Excellency, don't trouble yourself with my petulant complaint, and onl_ive orders for my books and letters to be restored to me… ."
He was interrupted. At that very instant Yulia Mihailovna returned and entere_oisily with all the party which had accompanied her. But at this point _hould like to tell my story in as much detail as possible.
In the first place, the whole company who had filled three carriages crowde_nto the waiting-room. There was a special entrance to Yulia Mihailovna'_partments on the left as one entered the house; but on this occasion they al_ent through the waiting-roomand I imagine just because Stepan Trofimovitc_as there, and because all that had happened to him as well as the Shpiguli_ffair had reached Yulia Mihailovna's ears as she drove into the town.
Lyamshin, who for some misdemeanour had not been invited to join the party an_o knew all that had been happening in the town before anyone else, brough_er the news. With spiteful glee he hired a wretched Cossack nag and hastene_n the way to Skvoreshniki to meet the returning cavalcade with the divertin_ntelligence. I fancy that, in spite of her lofty determination, Yuli_ihailovna was a little disconcerted on hearing such surprising news, bu_robably only for an instant. The political aspect of the affair, fo_nstance, could not cause her uneasiness; Pyotr Stepanovitch had impresse_pon her three or four times that the Shpigulin ruffians ought to be flogged, and Pyotr Stepanovitch certainly had for some time past been a great authorit_n her eyes. "But … anyway, I shall make him pay for it," she doubtles_eflected, the "he," of course, referring to her spouse. I must observe i_assing that on this occasion, as though purposely, Pyotr Stepanovitch ha_aken no part in the expedition, and no one had seen him all day. I mus_ention too, by the way, that Varvara Petrovna had come back to the town wit_er guests (hi the same carriage with Yulia Mihailovna) in order to be presen_t the last meeting of the committee which was arranging the fete for the nex_ay. She too must have been interested, and perhaps even agitated, by the new_bout Stepan Trofimovitch communicated by Lyamshin.
The hour of reckoning for Andrey Antonovitch followed at once. Alas! he fel_hat from the first glance at his admirable wife. With an open air and a_nchanting smile she went quickly up to Stepan Trofimovitch, held out he_xquisitely gloved hand, and greeted him with a perfect shower of natterin_hrases as though the only thing she cared about that morning was to mak_aste to be charming to Stepan Trofimovitch because at last she saw him in he_ouse. There was not one hint of the search that morning; it was as though sh_new nothing of it. There was not one word to her husband, not one glance i_is directionas though he had not been in the room. What's more, she promptl_onfiscated Stepan Trofimovitch and carried him off to the drawing-rooma_hough he had had no interview with Lembke, or as though it was not wort_rolonging if he had. I repeat again, I think that in this, Yulia Mihailovna, in spite of her aristocratic tone, made another great mistake. And Karmazino_articularly did much to aggravate this. (He had taken part in the expeditio_t Yulia Mihailovna's special request, and in that way had, incidentally, pai_is visit to Varvara Petrovna, and she was so poor-spirited as to be perfectl_elighted at it.) On seeing Stepan Trofimovitch, he called out from th_oorway (he came in behind the rest) and pressed forward to embrace him, eve_nterrupting Yulia Mihailovna.
"What years, what ages! At last … excellent ami."
He made as though to kiss him, offering his cheek, of course, and Stepa_rofimovitch was so fluttered that he could not avoid saluting it.
"Cher," he said to me that evening, recalling all the events of that day, "_ondered at that moment which of us was the most contemptible: he, embracin_e only to humiliate me, or I, despising him and his face and kissing it o_he spot, though I might have turned away… . Poo!"
"Come, tell me about yourself, tell me everything," Karmazinov drawled an_isped, as though it were possible for him on the spur of the moment to giv_n account of twenty-five years of his life. But this foolish trifling was th_eight of "chic."
"Remember that the last time we met was at the Granovsky dinner in Moscow, an_hat twenty-four years have passed since then … " Stepan Trofimovitch bega_ery reasonably (and consequently not at all in the same "chic" style).
"Ce cher homme," Karmazinov interrupted with shrill familiarity, squeezing hi_houlder with exaggerated friendliness. "Make haste and take us to your room, Yulia Mihailovna; there he'll sit down and tell us everything."
"And yet I was never at all intimate with that peevish old woman," Stepa_rofimovitch went on complaining to me that same evening, shaking with anger;
"we were almost boys, and I'd begun to detest him even then … just as he ha_e, of course."
Yulia Mihailovna's drawing-room filled up quickly. Varvara Petrovna wa_articularly excited, though she tried to appear indifferent, but I caught he_nce or twice glancing with hatred at Karmazinov and with wrath at Stepa_rofimovitchthe wrath of anticipation, the wrath of jealousy and love: i_tepan Trofimovitch had blundered this time and had let Karmazinov make hi_ook small before every one, I believe she would have leapt up and beaten him.
I have forgotten to say that Liza too was there, and I had never seen her mor_adiant, carelessly light-hearted, and happy. Mavriky Nikolaevitch was ther_oo, of course. In the crowd of young ladies and rather vulgar young men wh_ade up Yulia Mihailovna's usual retinue, and among whom this vulgarity wa_aken for sprightliness, and cheap cynicism for wit, I noticed two or thre_ew faces: a very obsequious Pole who was on a visit in the town; a Germa_octor, a sturdy old fellow who kept loudly laughing with great zest at hi_wn wit; and lastly, a very young princeling from Petersburg like an automato_igure, with the deportment of a state dignitary and a fearfully high collar.
But it was evident that Yulia Mihailovna had a very high opinion of thi_isitor, and was even a little anxious of the impression her salon was makin_n him.
"Cher M. Karmazinov," said Stepan Trofimovitch, sitting in a picturesque pos_n the sofa and suddenly beginning to lisp as daintily as Karmazinov himself,
"cher M. Karmazinov, the life of a man of our time and of certain convictions, even after an interval of twenty-five years, is bound to seem monotonous … "
The German went off into a loud abrupt guffaw like a neigh, evidentl_magining that Stepan Trofimovitch had said something exceedingly funny. Th_atter gazed at him with studied amazement but produced no effect on hi_hatever. The prince, too, looked at the German, turning head, collar and all, towards him and putting up his pince-nez, though without the slightes_uriosity.
"… Is bound to seem monotonous," Stepan Trofimovitch intentionally repeated, drawling each word as deliberately and nonchalantly as possible. "And so m_ife has been throughout this quarter of a century, et comme on trouve partou_lus de moines que de raison, and as I am entirely of this opinion, it ha_ome to pass that throughout this quarter of a century I … "
"C'est charmant, les moines," whispered Yulia Mihailovna, turning to Varvar_etrovna, who was sitting beside her.
Varvara Petrovna responded with a look of pride. But Karmazinov could no_tomach the success of the French phrase, and quickly and shrilly interrupte_tepan Trofimovitch.
"As for me, I am quite at rest on that score, and for the past seven year_'ve been settled at Karlsruhe. And last year, when it was proposed by th_own council to lay down a new water-pipe, I felt in my heart that thi_uestion of water-pipes in Karlsruhe was dearer and closer to my heart tha_ll the questions of my precious Fatherland … in this period of so-calle_eform."
"I can't help sympathising, though it goes against the grain," sighed Stepa_rofimovitch, bowing his head significantly.
Yulia Mihailovna was triumphant: the conversation was becoming profound an_aking a political turn.
"A drain-pipe?" the doctor inquired in a loud voice.
"A water-pipe, doctor, a water-pipe, and I positively assisted them in drawin_p the plan."
The doctor went off into a deafening guffaw. Many people followed his example, laughing in the face of the doctor, who remained unconscious of it and wa_ighly delighted that every one was laughing.
"You must allow me to differ from you, Karmazinov," Yulia Mihailovna hastene_o interpose. "Karlsruhe is all very well, but you are fond of mystifyin_eople, and this time we don't believe you. What Russian writer has presente_o many modern types, has brought forward so many contemporary problems, ha_ut his finger on the most vital modern points which make up the type of th_odern man of action? You, only you, and no one else. It's no use you_ssuring us of your coldness towards your own country and your ardent interes_n the water-pipes of Karlsruhe. Ha ha!"
"Yes, no doubt," lisped Karmazinov. "I have portrayed in the character o_ogozhev all the failings of the Slavophils and in the character of Nikodimo_ll the failings of the Westerners… ."
"I say, hardly all!" Lyamshin whispered slyly. "But I do this by the way, simply to while away the tedious hours and to satisfy the persistent demand_f my fellow-countrymen."
"You are probably aware, Stepan Trofimovitch," Yulia Mihailovna went o_nthusiastically, "that to-morrow we shall have the delight of hearing th_harming lines … one of the last of Semyon Yakovlevitch's exquisite literar_nspirations it's called Merci. He announces in this piece that he will writ_o more, that nothing in the world will induce him to, if angels from Heave_r, what's more, all the best society were to implore him to change his mind.
In fact he is laying down the pen for good, and this graceful Merci i_ddressed to the public in grateful acknowledgment of the constant enthusias_ith which it has for so many years greeted his unswerving loyalty to tru_ussian thought."
Yulia Mihailovna was at the acme of bliss. "Yes, I shall make my farewell; _hall say my Merci and depart and there … in Karlsruhe … I shall close m_yes." Karmazinov was gradually becoming maudlin.
like many of our great writers (and there are numbers of them amongst us), h_ould not resist praise, and began to be limp at once, in spite of hi_enetrating wit. But I consider this is pardonable. They say that one of ou_hakespeares positively blurted out in private conversation that "we great me_an't do otherwise," and so on, and, what's more, was unaware of it.
"There in Karlsruhe I shall close my eyes. When we have done our duty, al_hat's left for us great men is to make haste to close our eyes withou_eeking a reward. I shall do so too."
"Give me the address and I shall come to Karlsruhe to visit your tomb," sai_he German, laughing immoderately.
"They send corpses by rail nowadays,'' one of the less important young me_aid unexpectedly.
Lyamshin positively shrieked with delight. Yulia Mihailovna frowned. Nikola_tavrogin walked in.
"Why, I was told that you were locked up?" he said aloud, addressing Stepa_rofimovitch before every one else.
"No, it was a case of unlocking," jested Stepan Trofimovitch.
"But I hope that what's happened will have no influence on what I asked you t_o," Yulia Mihailovna put in again. "I trust that you will not let thi_nfortunate annoyance, of which I had no idea, lead you to disappoint ou_ager expectations and deprive us of the enjoyment of hearing your reading a_ur literary matinee."
"I don't know, I … now … "
"Really, I am so unlucky, Varvara Petrovna … and only fancy, just when I wa_o longing to make the personal acquaintance of one of the most remarkable an_ndependent intellects of Russiaand here Stepan Trofimovitch suddenly talks o_eserting us."
"Your compliment is uttered so audibly that I ought to pretend not to hea_t," Stepan Trofimovitch said neatly, "but I cannot believe that m_nsignificant presence is so indispensable at your fete to-morrow. However, I … "
"Why, you'll spoil him!" cried Pyotr Stepanovitch, bursting into the room.
"I've only just got him in handand in one morning he has been searched, arrested, taken by the collar by a policeman, and here ladies are cooing t_im in the governor's drawing-room. Every bone in his body is aching wit_apture; in his wildest dreams he had never hoped for such good fortune. No_e'll begin informing against the Socialists after this!"
"Impossible, Pyotr Stepanovitch! Socialism is too grand an idea to b_nrecognised by Stepan Trofimovitch." Yulia Mihailovna took up the gauntle_ith energy.
"It's a great idea but its exponents are not always great men, et brisons-id, mon cher," Stepan Trofimovitch ended, addressing his son and rising gracefull_rom his seat.
But at this point an utterly unexpected circumstance occurred. Von Lembke ha_een in the room for some time but seemed unnoticed by anyone, though ever_ne had seen him come in. In accordance with her former plan, Yulia Mihailovn_ent on ignoring him. He took up his position near the door and with a ster_ace listened gloomily to the conversation. Hearing an allusion to the event_f the morning, he began fidgeting uneasily, stared at the prince, obviousl_truck by his stiffly starched, prominent collar; then suddenly he seemed t_tart on hearing the voice of Pyotr Stepanovitch and seeing him burst in; an_o sooner had Stepan Trofimovitch uttered his phrase about Socialists tha_embke went up to him, pushing against Lyamshin, who at once skipped out o_he way with an affected gesture of surprise, rubbing his shoulder an_retending that he had been terribly bruised.
"Enough!" said Von Lembke to Stepan Trofimovitch, vigorously gripping the han_f the dismayed gentleman and squeezing it with all his might in both of his.
"Enough! The filibusters of our day are unmasked. Not another word. Measure_ave been taken… ."
He spoke loudly enough to be heard by all the room, and concluded with energy.
The impression he produced was poignant. Everybody felt that something wa_rong. I saw Yulia Mihailovna turn pale. The effect was heightened by _rivial accident. After announcing that measures had been taken, Lembke turne_harply and walked quickly towards the door, but he had hardly taken two step_hen he stumbled over a rug, swerved forward, and almost fell. For a moment h_tood still, looked at the rug at which he had stumbled, and, uttering aloud
"Change it!" went out of the room. Yulia Mihailovna ran after him. Her exi_as followed by an uproar, in which it was difficult to distinguish anything.
Some said he was "deranged," others that he was "liable to attacks"; other_ut their fingers to their forehead; Lyamshin, in the corner, put his. tw_ingers above his forehead. People hinted at some domestic difficultiesin _hisper, of course. No one took up his hat; all were waiting. I don't kno_hat Yulia Mihailovna managed to do, but five minutes later she came back, doing her utmost to appear composed. She replied evasively that Andre_ntonovitch was rather excited, but that it meant nothing, that he had bee_ike that from a child, that she knew "much better," and that the fete nex_ay would certainly cheer him up. Then followed a few flattering words t_tepan Trofimovitch simply from civility, and a loud invitation to the member_f the committee to open the meeting now, at once. Only then, all who were no_embers of the committee prepared to go home; but the painful incidents o_his fatal day were not yet over.
I noticed at the moment when Nikolay Stavrogin came in that Liza looke_uickly and intently at him and was for a long time unable to take her eye_ff himso much so that at last it attracted attention. I saw Mavrik_ikolaevitch bend over her from behind; he seemed to mean to whisper somethin_o her, but evidently changed his intention and drew himself up quickly, looking round at every one with a guilty air. Mkolay Vsyevolodovitch to_xcited curiosity; his face was paler than usual and there was a strangel_bsent-minded look in his eyes. After flinging his question at Stepa_rofimovitch he seemed to forget about him altogether, and I really believe h_ven forgot to speak to his hostess. He did not once look at Lizanot becaus_e did not want to, but I am certain because he did not notice her either. An_uddenly, after the brief silence that followed Yulia Mihailovna's invitatio_o open the meeting without loss of time, Liza's musical voice, intentionall_oud, was heard. She called to Stavrogin.
"Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, a captain who calls himself a relation of yours, th_rother of your wife, and whose name is Lebyadkin, keeps writing impertinen_etters to me, complaining of you and offering to tell me some secrets abou_ou. If he really is a connection of yours, please tell him not to annoy me, and save me from this unpleasantness."
There was a note of desperate challenge in these wordsevery one realised it.
The accusation was unmistakable, though perhaps it was a surprise to herself.
She was like a man who shuts his eyes and throws himself from the roof.
But Nikolay Stavrogin's answer was even more astounding.
To begin with, it was strange that he was not in the least surprised an_istened to Liza with unruffled attention. There was no trace of eithe_onfusion or anger in his face. Simply, firmly, even with an air of perfec_eadiness, he answered the fatal question:
"Yes, I have the misfortune to be connected with that man. I have been th_usband of his sister for nearly five years. You may be sure I will give hi_our message as soon as possible, and I'll answer for it that he shan't anno_ou again."
I shall never forget the horror that was reflected on the face of Varvar_etrovna. With a distracted air she got up from her seat, lifting up her righ_and as though to ward off a blow. Mkolay Vsyevolodovitch looked at her, looked at Liza, at the spectators, and suddenly smiled with infinite disdain; he walked deliberately out of the room. Every one saw how Liza leapt up fro_he sofa as soon as he turned to go and unmistakably made a movement to ru_fter him. But she controlled herself and did not run after him; she wen_uietly out of the room without saying a word or even looking at anyone, accompanied, of course, by Mavriky Nikolaevitch, who rushed after her.
The uproar and the gossip that night in the town I will not attempt t_escribe. Varvara Petrovna shut herself up in her town house and Nikola_syevolodovitch, it was said, went straight to Skvoreshniki without seeing hi_other. Stepan Trofimovitch sent me that evening to cette chere amie t_mplore her to allow him to come to her, but she would not see me. He wa_erribly overwhelmed; he shed tears. "Such a marriage! Such a marriage! Suc_n awful thing in the family!" he kept repeating. He remembered Karmazinov, however, and abused him terribly. He set to work vigorously to prepare for th_eading too andthe artistic temperament!rehearsed before the looking-glass an_ent over all the jokes and witticisms uttered in the course of his life whic_e had written down in a separate notebook, to insert into his reading nex_ay.
"My dear, I do this for the sake of a great idea," he said to me, obviousl_ustifying himself. "Cher ami, I have been stationary for twenty-five year_nd suddenly I've begun to movewhither, I know notbut I've begun to move… ."