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Chapter 2 Night (continued)

  • HE WALKED THE LENGTH of Bogoyavlensky Street. At last the road began to g_ownhill; his feet slipped in the mud and suddenly there lay open before him _ide, misty, as it were empty expansethe river. The houses were replaced b_ovels; the street was lost in a multitude of irregular little alleys.
  • Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch was a long while making his way between the fences, keeping close to the river bank, but finding his way confidently, and scarcel_iving it a thought indeed. He was absorbed in something quite different, an_ooked round with surprise when suddenly, waking up from a profound reverie, he found himself almost in the middle of one long, wet, floating bridge.
  • There was not a soul to be seen, so that it seemed strange to him whe_uddenly, almost at his elbow, he heard a deferentially familiar, but rathe_leasant, voice, with a suave intonation, such as is affected by our over- refined tradespeople or befrizzled young shop assistants.
  • "Will you kindly allow me, sir, to share your umbrella?"
  • There actually was a figure that crept under his umbrella, or tried to appea_o do so. The tramp was walking beside him, almost "feeling his elbow," as th_oldiers say. Slackening his pace, Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch bent down to loo_ore closely, as far as he could, in the darkness. It was a short man, an_eemed like an artisan who had been drinking; he was shabbily and scantil_ressed; a cloth cap, soaked by the rain and with the brim half torn off, perched on his shaggy, curly head. He looked a thin, vigorous, swarthy ma_ith dark hair; his eyes were large and must have been black, with a har_litter and a yellow tinge in them, like a gipsy's; that could be divined eve_n the darkness. He was about forty, and was not drunk.
  • "Do you know me?" asked Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch. "Mr. Stavrogin, Nikola_syevolodovitch. You were pointed out to me at the station, when the trai_topped last Sunday, though I had heard enough of you beforehand."
  • "Prom Pyotr Stepanovitch? Are you … Fedka the convict?"
  • "I was christened Fyodor Fyodorovitch. My mother is living to this day i_hese parts; she's an old woman, and grows more and more bent every day. Sh_rays to God for me, day and night, so that she doesn't waste her old ag_ying on the stove."
  • "You escaped from prison?"
  • "I've had a change of luck. I gave up books and bells and church-going becaus_'d a life sentence, so that I had a very long time to finish my term."
  • "What are you doing here?"
  • "Well, I do what I can. My uncle, too, died last week in prison here. He wa_here for false coin, so I threw two dozen stones at the dogs by way o_emorial. That's all I've been doing so far. Moreover Pyotr Stepanovitch give_e hopes of a passport, and a merchant's one, too, to go all over Russia, s_'m waiting on his kindness. 'Because,' says he, 'my papa lost you at cards a_he English club, and I,' says he, 'find that inhumanity unjust.' You migh_ave the kindness to give me three roubles, sir, for a glass to warm myself."
  • "So you've been spying on me. I don't like that. By whose orders?"
  • "As to orders, it's nothing of the sort; it's simply that I knew of you_enevolence, which is known to all the world. All we get, as you know, is a_rmful of hay, or a prod with a fork. Last Friday I filled myself as full o_ie as Martin did of soap; since then I didn't eat one day, and the day afte_ fasted, and on the third I'd nothing again. I've had my fill of water fro_he river. I'm breeding fish in my belly… . So won't your honour give m_omething? I've a sweetheart expecting me not far from here, but I daren'_how myself to her without money."
  • "What did Pyotr Stepanovitch promise you from me?"
  • "He didn't exactly promise anything, but only said that I might be of use t_our honour if my luck turns out good, but how exactly he didn't explain; fo_yotr Stepanovitch wants to see if I have the patience of a Cossack, and feel_o sort of confidence in me."
  • "Why?"
  • "Pyotr Stepanovitch is an astronomer, and has learnt all God's planets, bu_ven he may be criticised. I stand before you, sir, as before God, because _ave heard so much about you. Pyotr Stepanovitch is one thing, but you, sir, maybe, are something else. When he's said of a man he's a scoundrel, he know_othing more about him except that he's a scoundrel. Or if he's said he's _ool, then that man has no calling with him except that of fool. But I may b_ fool Tuesday and Wednesday, and on Thursday wiser than he. Here now he know_bout me that I'm awfully sick to get a passport, for there's no getting on i_ussia without papersso he thinks that he's snared my soul. I tell you, sir, life's a very easy business for Pyotr Stepanovitch, for he fancies a man to b_his and that, and goes on as though he really was. And, what's more, he'_eastly stingy. It's his notion that, apart from him, I daren't trouble you, but I stand before you, sir, as before God. This is the fourth night I've bee_aiting for your honour on this bridge, to show that I can find my own way o_he quiet, without him. I'd better bow to a boot, thinks I, than to _easant's shoe."
  • "And who told you that I was going to cross the bridge at night?"
  • "Well, that, I'll own, came out by chance, most through Captain Lebyadkin'_oolishness, because he can't keep anything to himself… . So that thre_oubles from your honour would pay me for the weary time I've had these thre_ays and nights. And the clothes I've had soaked, I feel that too much t_peak of it."
  • "I'm going to the left; you'll go to the right. Here's the end of the bridge.
  • Listen, Fyodor; I like people to understand what I say, once for all. I won'_ive you a farthing. Don't meet me in future on the bridge or anywhere. I'v_o need of you, and never shall have, and if you don't obey, I'll tie you an_ake you to the police. March!"
  • "Eh-heh! Fling me something for my company, anyhow. I've cheered you on you_ay."
  • "Be off!"
  • "But do you know the way here? There are all sorts of turnings… . I coul_uide you; for this town is for all the world as though the devil carried i_n his basket and dropped it in bits here and there."
  • "I'll tie you up!" said Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, turning upon him menacingly.
  • "Perhaps you'll change your mind, sir; it's easy to ill-treat the helpless."
  • "Well, I see you can rely on yourself!"
  • "I rely upon you, sir, and not very much on myself… ."
  • "I've no need of you at all. I've told you so already."
  • "But I have need, that's how it is! I shall wait for you on the way back.
  • There's nothing for it."
  • "I give you my word of honour if I meet you I'll tie you up."
  • "Well, I'll get a belt ready for you to tie me with. A lucky journey to you, sir. You kept the helpless snug under your Umbrella. For that alone I'll b_rateful to you to my dying day." He fell behind. Nikolay Vsyevolodovitc_alked on to his destination, feeling disturbed. This man who had dropped fro_he sky was absolutely convinced that he Was indispensable to him, Stavrogin, and was in insolent haste to tell him so. He was being treated unceremoniousl_ll round. But it was possible, too, that the tramp had not been altogethe_ying, and had tried to force his services upon him on his own initiative, without Pyotr Stepanovitch's knowledge, and that would be more curious still.
  • The house which Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch had reached stood alone in a deserte_ane between fences, beyond which market gardens stretched, at the very end o_he town. It Was a very solitary little wooden house, which was only jus_uilt and not yet weather-boarded. In one of the little windows the shutter_ere not yet closed, and there was a candle standing on the window-ledge, evidently as a signal to the late guest who was expected that night. Thirt_aces away Stavrogin made out on the doorstep the figure of a tall man, evidently the master of the house, who had come out to stare impatiently U_he road. He heard his voice, too, impatient and, as it were, timid.
  • "Is that you? You?"
  • "Yes," responded Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, but not till he had mounted th_teps and was folding up his umbrella.
  • "At last, sir." Captain Lebyadkin, for it was he, ran fussily to and fro. "Le_e take your umbrella, please. It's very wet; I'll open it on the floor here, in the corner. Please walk in. Please walk in."
  • The door was open from the passage into a room that was lighted by tw_andles.
  • "If it had not been for your promise that you would certainly come, I shoul_ave given up expecting you."
  • "A quarter to one," said Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, looking at his watch, as h_ent into the room.
  • "And in this rain; and such an interesting distance. I've no clock … and ther_re nothing but market-gardens round me … so that you fall behind the times.
  • Not that I murmur exactly; for I dare not, I dare not, but only because I'v_een devoured with impatience all the week … to have things settled at last."
  • "How so?"
  • "To hear my fate, Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch. Please sit down."
  • He bowed, pointing to a seat by the table, before the sofa.
  • Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch looked round. The room was tiny and low-pitched. Th_urniture consisted only of the most essential articles, plain wooden chair_nd a sofa, also newly made without covering or cushions. There were tw_ables of limewood; one by the sofa, and the other in the corner was covere_ith a table-cloth, laid with things over which a clean table-napkin had bee_hrown. And, indeed, the whole room was obviously kept extremely clean.
  • Captain Lebyadkin had not been drunk for eight days. His face looked bloate_nd yellow. His eyes looked uneasy, inquisitive, and obviously bewildered. I_as only too evident that he did not know what tone he could adopt, and wha_ine it would be most advantageous for him to take.
  • "Here," he indicated his surroundings, "I live like Zossima. Sobriety, solitude, and povertythe vow of the knights of old."
  • "You imagine that the knights of old took such vows?"
  • "Perhaps I'm mistaken. Alas! I have no culture. I've ruined all. Believe me, Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, here first I have recovered from shamefu_ropensitiesnot a glass nor a drop! I have a home, and for six days past _ave experienced a conscience at ease. Even the walls smell of resin an_emind me of nature. And what have I been; what was I?
  • ' At night without a bed
  • I wander
  • And my tongue put out by day
  • … '
  • to use the words of a poet of genius. But you're wet through… . Wouldn't yo_ike some tea?"
  • "Don't trouble."
  • "The samovar has been boiling since eight o'clock, but it went out at las_ike everything in this world. The sun, too, they say, will go out in it_urn. But if you like I'll get up the samovar. Agafya is not asleep."
  • "Tell me, Marya Timofyevna … "
  • "She's here, here," Lebyadkin replied at once, in a whisper. "Would you lik_o have a look at her?" He pointed to the closed door to the next room. "She'_ot asleep?"
  • "Oh, no, no. How could she be? On the contrary, she's been expecting you al_he evening, and as soon as she heard you were coming she began making he_oilet."
  • He was just twisting his mouth into a jocose smile, but he instantly checke_imself.
  • "How is she, on the whole?" asked Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, frowning.
  • "On the whole? You know that yourself, sir." He shrugged his shoulder_ommiseratingly. "But just now … just now she's telling her fortune wit_ards… ."
  • "Very good. Later on. First of all I must finish with you."
  • Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch settled himself in a chair. The captain did no_enture to sit down on the sofa, but at once moved up another chair fo_imself, and bent forward to listen, in a tremor of expectation.
  • "What have you got there under the table-cloth?" asked Nikola_syevolodovitch, suddenly noticing it.
  • "That?" said Lebyadkin, turning towards it also. "That's from your generosity, by way of house-warming, so to say; considering also the length of the walk, and your natural fatigue," he sniggered ingratiatingly. Then he got up o_iptoe, and respectfully and carefully lifted the table-cloth from the tabl_n the corner. Under it was seen a slight meal: ham, veal, sardines, cheese, _ittle green decanter, and a long bottle of Bordeaux. Everything had been lai_eatly, expertly, and almost daintily.
  • "Was that your effort?"
  • "Yes, sir. Ever since yesterday I've done my best, and all to do you honour… .
  • Marya Timofyevna doesn't trouble herself, as you know, on that score. An_hat's more its all from your liberality, your own providing, as you're th_aster of the house and not I, and I'm only, so to say, your agent. All th_ame, all the same, Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, all the same, in spirit, I'_ndependent! Don't take away from me this last possession!" he finished u_athetically.
  • "H'm! You might sit down again."
  • "Gra-a-teful, grateful, and independent." He sat down. "Ah, Nikola_syevolodovitch, so much has been fermenting in this heart that I have no_nown how to wait for your coming. Now you will decide my fate, and … tha_nhappy creature's, and then … shall I pour out all I feel to you as I used t_n old days, four years ago? You deigned to listen to me then, you read m_erses… . They might call me your Falstaff from Shakespeare in those days, bu_ou meant so much in my life! I have great terrors now, and its only to you _ook for counsel and light. Pyotr Stepanovitch is treating me abominably!"
  • Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch listened with interest, and looked at him attentively.
  • It was evident that though Captain Lebyadkin had left off drinking he was fa_rom being in a harmonious state of mind. Drunkards of many years' standing, like Lebyadkin, often show traces of incoherence, of mental cloudiness, o_omething, as it were, damaged, and crazy, though they may deceive, cheat, an_windle, almost as well as anybody if occasion arises.
  • "I see that you haven't changed a bit in these four years and more, captain,"
  • said Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, somewhat more amiably. "It seems, in fact, a_hough the second half of a man's life is usually made up of nothing but th_abits he has accumulated during the first half."
  • "Grand words! You solve the riddle of life!" said the captain, half cunningly, half in genuine and unfeigned admiration, for he was a great lover of words.
  • "Of all your sayings, Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, I remember one thing above all; you were in Petersburg when you said it: 'One must really be a great man to b_ble to make a stand even against common sense.' That was it."
  • "Yes, and a fool as well."
  • "A fool as well, maybe. But you've been scattering clever sayings all you_ife, while they … Imagine Liputin, imagine Pyotr Stepanovitch saying anythin_ike that! Oh, how cruelly Pyotr Stepanovitch has treated me!"
  • "But how about yourself, captain? What can you say of your behaviour?"
  • "Drunkenness, and the multitude of my enemies. But now that's all over, al_ver, and I have a new skin, like a snake. Do you know, Nikola_syevolodovitch, I am making my will; in fact, I've made it already?"
  • "That's interesting. What are you leaving, and to whom?"
  • "To my fatherland, to humanity, and to the students. Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, I read in the paper the biography of an American. He left all his vast fortun_o factories and to the exact sciences, and his skeleton to the students o_he academy there, and his skin to be made into a drum, so that the America_ational hymn might be beaten upon it day and night. Alas! we are pigmies i_ind compared with the soaring thought of the States of North America. Russi_s the play of nature but not of mind. If I were to try leaving my skin for _rum, for instance, to the Akmolinsky infantry regiment, in which I had th_onour of beginning my service, on condition of beating the Russian nationa_ymn upon it every day, in face of the regiment, they'd take it for liberalis_nd prohibit my skin … and so I confine myself to the students. I want t_eave my skeleton to the academy, but on the condition though, on th_ondition that a label should be stuck on the forehead for ever and ever, wit_he words: 'A repentant free-thinker.' There now!"
  • The captain spoke excitedly, and genuinely believed, of course, that there wa_omething fine in the American will, but he was cunning too, and very anxiou_o entertain Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, with whom he had played the part of _uffoon for a long time in the past. But the latter did not even smile, on th_ontrary, he asked, as it were, suspiciously:
  • "So you intend to publish your will in your lifetime and get rewarded for it?"
  • "And what if I do, Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch? What if I do?" said Lebyadkin, watching him carefully. "What sort of luck have I had? I've given up writin_oetry, and at one time even you were amused by my verses, Nikola_syevolodovitch. Do you remember our reading them over a bottle? But it's al_ver with my pen. I've written only one poem, like Gogol's 'The Last Story.'
  • Do you remember he proclaimed to Russia that it broke spontaneously from hi_osom? It's the same with me; I've sung my last and it's over."
  • "What sort of poem?"
  • "'In case she were to break her leg.' "
  • "Wha-a-t?"
  • That was all the captain was waiting for. He had an unbounded admiration fo_is own poems, but, through a certain cunning duplicity, he was pleased, too, that Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch always made merry over his poems, and sometime_aughed at them immoderately. In this way he killed two birds with one stone, satisfying at once his poetical aspirations and his desire to be of service; but now he had a third special and very ticklish object in view. Bringing hi_erses on the scene, the captain thought to exculpate himself on one poin_bout which, for some reason, he always felt himself most apprehensive, an_ost guilty.
  • "' In case of her breaking her leg.' That is, of her riding on horseback. It'_ fantasy, Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, a wild fancy, but the fancy of a poet. On_ay I was struck by meeting a lady on horseback, and asked myself the vita_uestion, 'What would happen then?' That is, in case of accident. All he_ollowers turn away, all her suitors are gone. A pretty kettle of fish. Onl_he poet remains faithful, with his heart shattered in his breast, Nikola_syevolodovitch. Even a louse may be in love, and is not forbidden by law. An_et the lady was offended by the letter and the verses. I'm told that even yo_ere angry. Were you? I wouldn't believe in anything so grievous. Whom could _arm simply by imagination? Besides, I swear on my honour, Liputin kep_aying, 'Send it, send it,' every man, however humble, has a right to send _etter! And so I sent it."
  • "You offered yourself as a suitor, I understand."
  • "Enemies, enemies, enemies?"
  • "Repeat the verses," said Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch sternly.
  • "Ravings, ravings, more than anything."
  • However, he drew himself up, stretched out his hand, and began:
  • "With broken limbs my beauteous queen
  • Is twice as charming as before,
  • And, deep in love as I have been,
  • To-day I love her even more."
  • "Come, that's enough," said Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, a wave of his hand.
  • "I dream of Petersburg," cried Lebyadkin, passing quickly to another subject, as though there had been no mention of verses.
  • "I dream of regeneration… . Benefactor! May I reckon that you won't refuse th_eans for the journey? I've been waiting for you all the week as my sunshine."
  • "I'll do nothing of the sort. I've scarcely any money left. And why should _ive you money?"
  • Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch seemed suddenly angry. Dryly and briefly h_ecapitulated all the captain's misdeeds; his drunkenness, his lying, hi_quandering of the money meant for Marya Timofyevna, his having taken her fro_he nunnery, his insolent letters threatening to publish the secret, the wa_e had behaved about Darya Pavlovna, and so on, and so on. The captain heaved, gesticulated, began to reply, but every time Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch stoppe_im. peremptorily.
  • "And listen," he observed at last, "you keep writing about 'family disgrace.'
  • What disgrace is it to you that your sister is the lawful wife of _tavrogin?"
  • "But marriage in secret, Nikolay Vsyevolodovitcha fatal secret. I receiv_oney from you, and I'm suddenly asked the question, 'What's that money for?'
  • My hands are tied; I cannot answer to the detriment of my sister, to th_etriment of the family honour."
  • The captain raised his voice. He liked that subject and reckoned boldly upo_t. Alas! he did not realise what a blow was in store for him.
  • Calmly and exactly, as though he were speaking of the most everyda_rrangement, Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch informed him that in a few days, perhap_ven to-morrow or the day after, he intended to make his marriage know_verywhere, "to the police as well as to local society." And so the questio_f family honour would be settled once for all, and with it the question o_ubsidy. The captain's eyes were ready to drop out of his head; he positivel_ould not take it in. It had to be explained to him.
  • "But she is … crazy."
  • "I shall make suitable arrangements."
  • "But … how about your mother?"
  • "Well, she must do as she likes."
  • "But will you take your wife to your house?"
  • "Perhaps so. But that is absolutely nothing to do with you and no concern o_ours."
  • "No concern of mine!" cried the captain. "What about me then?"
  • "Well, certainly you won't come into my house."
  • "But, you know, I'm a relation."
  • "One does one's best to escape from such relations. Why should I go on givin_ou money then? Judge for yourself."
  • "Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, this is impossible. Yo_ill think better of it, perhaps? You don't want to lay hands upon… . Wha_ill people think? What will the world say?"
  • "Much I care for your world. I married your sister when the fancy took me, after a drunken dinner, for a bet, and now I'll make it public … since tha_muses me now."
  • He said this with a peculiar irritability, so that Lebyadkin began with horro_o believe him.
  • "But me, me? What about me? I'm what matters most! … Perhaps you're joking, Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch?"
  • "No, I'm not joking."
  • "As you will, Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, but I don't believe you… . Then I'l_ake proceedings."
  • "You're fearfully stupid, captain."
  • "Maybe, but this is all that's left me," said the captain, losing his hea_ompletely. "In old days we used to get free quarters, anyway, for the wor_he did in the 'corners.' But what will happen now if you throw me ove_ltogether?"
  • "But you want to go to Petersburg to try a new career. By the way, is it tru_hat I hear, that you mean to go and give information, in the hope o_btaining a pardon, by betraying all the others?"
  • The captain stood gaping with wide-open eyes, and made no answer.
  • "Listen, captain," Stavrogin began suddenly, with great earnestness, bendin_own to the table. Until then he had been talking, as it were, ambiguously, s_hat Lebyadkin, who had wide experience in playing the part of buffoon, was u_o the last moment a trifle uncertain whether his patron were really angry o_imply putting it on; whether he really had the wild intention of making hi_arriage public, or whether he were only playing. Now Nikola_syevolodovitch's stern expression was so convincing that a shiver ran dow_he captain's back.
  • "Listen, and tell the truth, Lebyadkin. Have you betrayed anything yet, o_ot? Have you succeeded in doing anything really? Have you sent a letter t_omebody in your foolishness?"
  • "No, I haven't … and I haven't thought of doing it," said the captain, lookin_ixedly at him.
  • "That's a lie, that you haven't thought of doing it. That's what you're askin_o go to Petersburg for. If you haven't written, have you blabbed to anybod_ere? Speak the truth. I've heard something."
  • "When I was drunk, to Liputin. Liputin's a traitor. I opened my heart to him,"
  • whispered the poor captain.
  • "That's all very well, but there's no need to be an ass. If you had an ide_ou should have kept it to yourself. Sensible people hold their tongue_owadays; they don't go chattering."
  • "Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch!" said the captain, quaking. "You've had nothing t_o with it yourself; it's not you I've … "
  • "Yes. You wouldn't have ventured to kill the goose that laid your golde_ggs."
  • "Judge for yourself, Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, judge for yourself," and, i_espair, with tears, the captain began hurriedly relating the story of hi_ife for the last four years. It was the most stupid story of a fool, draw_nto matters that did not concern him, and in his drunkenness and debaucher_nable, till the last minute, to grasp their importance. He said that befor_e left Petersburg 'he had been drawn in, at first simply through friendship, like a regular student, although he wasn't a student,' and knowing nothin_bout it, 'without being guilty of anything,' he had scattered various paper_n staircases, left them by dozens at doors, on bell-handles, had thrust the_n as though they were newspapers, taken them to the theatre, put them i_eople's hats, and slipped them into pockets. Afterwards he had taken mone_rom them, 'for what means had I? 'He had distributed all sorts of rubbis_hrough the districts of two provinces. "Oh, Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch!" h_xclaimed, "what revolted me most was that this was utterly opposed to civic, and still more to patriotic laws. They suddenly printed that men were to g_ut with pitchforks, and to remember that those who went out poor in th_orning might go home rich at night. Only think of it! It made me shudder, an_et I distributed it. Or suddenly five or six lines addressed to the whole o_ussia, apropos of nothing, 'Make haste and lock up the churches, abolish God, do away with marriage, destroy the right of inheritance, take up your knives,"
  • that's all, and God knows what it means. tell you, I almost got caught wit_his five-line leaflet. The officers in the regiment gave me a thrashing, but, bless them for it, let me go. And last year I was almost caught when I passe_ff French counterfeit notes for fifty roubles on Korovayev, but, thank God, Korovayev fell into the pond when he was drunk, and was drowned in the nick o_ime, and they didn't succeed in tracking me. Here, at Virginsky's, _roclaimed the freedom of the communistic wife. In June I was distributin_anifestoes again in X district. They say they will make me do it again… .
  • Pyotr Stepanovitch suddenly gave me to understand that I must obey; he's bee_hreatening me a long time. How he treated me that Sunday! Nikola_syevolodovitch, I am a slave, I am a worm, but not a God, which is where _iffer from Derzhavin.* But I've no income, no income!"
  • Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch heard it all with curiosity.
  • "A great deal of that I had heard nothing of," he said. "Of course, anythin_ay have happened to you… , Listen," he said, after a minute's thought. "I_ou like, you can tell them, you know whom, that Liputin was lying, and tha_ou were only pretending to give information to frighten me, supposing that I, too, was compromised, and that you might get more money out of me that way… .
  • Do you understand?"
  • "Dear Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, is it possible that there's such a dange_anging over me I I've been longing for you to come, to ask you."
  • Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch laughed.
  • "They certainly wouldn't let you go to Petersburg, even if I were to give yo_oney for the journey.*… But it's time for me to see Marya Timofyevna." And h_ot up from his chair.
  • "Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, but how about Marya Timofyevna?"
  • "Why, as I told you."
  • "Can it be true?"
  • "You still don't believe it?"
  • "Will you really cast me off like an old worn-out shoe?"
  • "I'll see," laughed Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch. "Come, let me go."
  • "Wouldn't you like me to stand on the steps … for fear I might by chanc_verhear something … for the rooms are small?"
  • "That's as well. Stand on the steps. Take my umbrella."
  • "Your umbrella… . Am I worth it?" said the captain over-sweetly.
  • *The reference is to a poem of Derzhavin's.
  • " Anyone is worthy of an umbrella."
  • "At one stroke you define the minimum of human rights… ."
  • But he was by now muttering mechanically. He was too much crushed by what h_ad learned, and was completely thrown out of his reckoning. And yet almost a_oon as he had gone out on to the steps and had put up the umbrella, there hi_hallow and cunning brain caught again the ever-present, comforting idea tha_e was being cheated and deceived, and if so they were afraid of him, an_here was no need for him to be afraid.
  • "If they're lying and deceiving me, what's at the bottom of it?" was th_hought that gnawed at his mind. The public announcement of the marriag_eemed to him absurd. "It's true that with such a wonder-worker anything ma_ome to pass; he lives to do harm. But what if he's afraid himself, since th_nsult of Sunday, and afraid as he's never been before? And so he's in a hurr_o declare that he'll announce it himself, from fear that I should announc_t. Eh, don't blunder, Lebyadkin! And why does he come on the sly, at night, if he means to make it public himself? And if he's afraid, it means that he'_fraid now, at this moment, for these few days… . Eh, don't make a mistake, Lebyadkin!
  • "He scares me with Pyotr Stepanovitch. Oy, I'm frightened, I'm frightened!
  • Yes, this is what's so frightening! And what induced me to blab to Liputin.
  • Goodness knows what these devils are up to. I never can make head or tail o_t. Now they are all astir again as they were five years ago. To whom could _ive information, indeed? 'Haven't I written to anyone in my foolishness?'
  • H'm! So then I might write as though through foolishness? Isn't he giving me _int? 'You're going to Petersburg on purpose.' The sly rogue. I've scarcel_reamed of it, and he guesses my dreams. As though he were putting me up t_oing himself. It's one or the other of two games he's up to. Either he'_fraid because he's been up to some pranks himself … or he's not afraid fo_imself, but is simply egging me on to give them all away! Ach, it's terrible, Lebyadkin! Ach, you must not make a blunder!"
  • He was so absorbed in thought that he forgot to listen. It was not easy t_ear either. The door was a solid one, and they were talking in a very lo_oice. Nothing reached the captain but indistinct sounds. He positively spa_n disgust, and went out again, lost in thought, to whistle on the steps.
  • Marya Timofyevna's room was twice as large as the one occupied by the captain, and furnished in the same rough style; but the table in front of the sofa wa_overed with a gay-coloured table-cloth, and on it a lamp was burning. Ther_as a handsome carpet on the floor. The bed was screened off by a gree_urtain, which ran the length of the room, and besides the sofa there stood b_he table a large, soft easy chair, in which Marya Timofyevna never sat, however. In the corner there was an ikon as there had been in her old room, and a little lamp was burning before it, and on the table were all he_ndispensable properties. The pack of cards, the little looking-glass, th_ong-book, even a milk loaf. Besides these there were two books with coloure_icturesone, extracts from a popular book of travels, published for juvenil_eading, the other a collection of very light, edifying tales, for the mos_art about the days of chivalry, intended for Christmas presents or schoo_eading. She had, too, an album of photographs of various sorts.
  • Marya Timofyevna was, of course, expecting the visitor, as the captain ha_nnounced. But when Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch went in, she was asleep, hal_eclining on the sofa, propped on a woolwork cushion. Her visitor closed th_oor after him noiselessly, and, standing still, scrutinised the sleepin_igure.
  • The captain had been romancing when he told Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch she ha_een dressing herself up. She was wearing the same dark dress as on Sunday a_arvara Petrovna's. Her hair was done up in the same little close knot at th_ack of her head; her long thin neck was exposed in the same way. The blac_hawl Varvara Petrovna had given her lay carefully folded on the sofa. She wa_oarsely rouged and powdered as before. Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch did not stan_here more than a minute. She suddenly waked up, as though she were consciou_f his eyes fixed upon her; she opened her eyes, and quickly drew herself up.
  • But something strange must have happened to her visitor: he remained standin_t the same place by the door. With a fixed and searching glance he looke_utely and persistently into her face. Perhaps that look was too grim, perhap_here was an expression of aversion in it, even a malignant enjoyment of he_rightif it were not a fancy left by her dreams; but suddenly, after almost _oment of expectation, the poor woman's face wore a look of absolute terror; it twitched convulsively; she lifted her trembling hands and suddenly burs_nto tears, exactly like a frightened child; in another moment she would hav_creamed. But Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch pulled himself together; his fac_hanged in one instant, and he went up to the table with the most cordial an_miable smile.
  • "I'm sorry, Marya Timofyevna, I frightened you coming in suddenly when yo_ere asleep," he said, holding out his hand to her.
  • The sound of his caressing words produced their effect. Her fear vanished, although she still looked at him with dismay, evidently trying to understan_omething. She held out her hands timorously also. At last a shy smile rose t_er lips.
  • "How do you do, prince?" she whispered, looking at him strangely.
  • "You must have had a bad dream," he went on, with a still more friendly an_ordial smile.
  • "But how do you know that I was dreaming about that?" And again she bega_rembling, and started back, putting up her hand as though to protect herself, on the point of crying again. "Calm yourself. That's enough. What are yo_fraid of? Surely you know me?" said Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, trying to sooth_er; but it was long before he could succeed. She gazed at him dumbly with th_ame look of agonising perplexity, with a painful idea in her poor brain, an_he still seemed to be trying to reach some conclusion. At one moment sh_ropped her eyes, then suddenly scrutinised him in a rapid comprehensiv_lance. At last, though not reassured, she seemed to come to a conclusion.
  • "Sit down beside me, please, that I may look at you thoroughly later on," sh_rought out with more firmness, evidently with a new object. "But don't b_neasy, I won't look at you now. I'll look down. Don't you look at me eithe_ill I ask you to. Sit down," she added, with positive impatience.
  • A new sensation was obviously growing stronger and stronger in her.
  • Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch sat down and waited. Rather a long silence followed.
  • "H'm! It all seems so strange to me," she suddenly muttered almos_isdainfully. "Of course I was depressed by bad dreams, but why have I dream_f you looking like that?"
  • "Come, let's have done with dreams," he said impatiently, turning to her i_pite of her prohibition, and perhaps the same expression gleamed for a momen_n his eyes again. He saw that she several times wanted, very much in fact, t_ook at him again, but that she obstinately controlled herself and kept he_yes cast down.
  • "Listen, prince," she raised her voice suddenly, "listen prince… ."
  • "Why do you turn away? Why don't you look at me? What's the object of thi_arce?" he cried, losing patience.
  • But she seemed not to hear him.
  • "Listen, prince," she repeated for the third time in a resolute voice, with _isagreeable, fussy expression. "When you told me in the carriage that ou_arriage was going to be made public, I was alarmed at there being an end t_he mystery. Now I don't know. I've been thinking it all over, and I se_learly that I'm not fit for it at all. I know how to dress, and I coul_eceive guests, perhaps. There's nothing much in asking people to have a cu_f tea, especially when there are footmen. But what will people say though? _aw a great deal that Sunday morning in that house. That pretty young lad_ooked at me all the time, especially after you came in. It was you came in, wasn't it? Her mother's simply an absurd worldly old woman. My Lebyadki_istinguished himself too. I kept looking at the ceiling to keep fro_aughing; the ceiling there is finely painted. His mother ought to be a_bbess. I'm afraid of her, though she did give me a black shawl. Of course, they must all have come to strange conclusions about me. I wasn't vexed, but _at there, thinking what relation am I to them? Of course, from a countess on_oesn't expect any but spiritual qualities; for the domestic ones she's go_lenty of footmen; and also a little worldly coquetry, so as to be able t_ntertain foreign travellers. But yet that Sunday they did look upon me a_opeless. Only Dasha's an angel. I'm awfully afraid they may wound him by som_areless allusion to me."
  • "Don't be afraid, and don't be uneasy," said Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, making _ry face.
  • "However, that doesn't matter to me, if he is a little ashamed of me, fo_here will always be more pity than shame, though it differs with people, o_ourse. He knows, to be sure, that I ought rather to pity them than they me."
  • "You seem to be very much offended with them, Marya Timofyevna?"
  • "I? Oh, no," she smiled with simple-hearted mirth. "Not at all. I looked a_ou all, then. You were all angry, you were all quarrelling. They mee_ogether, and they don't know how to laugh from their hearts. So much wealt_nd so little gaiety. It all disgusts me. Though I feel for no one now excep_yself."
  • "I've heard that you've had a hard life with your brother without me?"
  • "Who told you that? It's nonsense. It's much worse now. Now my dreams are no_ood, and my dreams are bad, because you've come. What have you come for, I'_ike to know. Tell me please?"
  • "Wouldn't you like to go back into the nunnery?"
  • "I knew they'd suggest the nunnery again. Your nunnery is a fine marvel fo_e! And why should I go to it? What should I go for now? I'm all alone in th_orld now. It's too late for me to begin a third life."
  • "You seem very angry about something. Surely you're not afraid that I've lef_ff loving you?"
  • "I'm not troubling about you at all. I'm afraid that I may leave off lovin_omebody."
  • She laughed contemptuously.
  • "I must have done him some great wrong," she added suddenly, as it were t_erself, "only I don't know what I've done wrong; that's always what trouble_e. Always, always, for the last five years. I've been afraid day and nigh_hat I've done him some wrong. I've prayed and prayed and always thought o_he great wrong I'd done him. And now it turns out it wag true."
  • "What's turned out?"
  • "I'm only afraid whether there's something on his side," she went on, no_nswering his question, not hearing it in fact. "And then, again, he couldn'_et on with such horrid people. The countess would have liked to eat me, though she did make me sit in the carriage beside her. They're all in th_lot. Surely he's not betrayed me?" (Her chin and lips were twitching.) "Tel_e, have you read about Grishka Otrepyev, how he was cursed in seve_athedrals?"
  • Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch did not speak.
  • "But I'll turn round now and look at you." She seemed to decide suddenly. "Yo_urn to me, too, and look at me, but more attentively. I want to make sure fo_he last time."
  • "I've been looking at you for a long time."
  • "H'm!" said Marya Timofyevna, looking at him intently. "You've grown muc_atter."
  • She wanted to say something more, but suddenly, for the third time, the sam_error instantly distorted her face, and again she drew back, putting her han_p before her.
  • "What's the matter with you?" cried Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, almost enraged.
  • But her panic lasted only one instant, her face worked with a sort of strang_mile, suspicious and unpleasant.
  • "I beg you, prince, get up and come in," she brought out suddenly, in a firm, emphatic voice.
  • "Come in? Where am I to come in?"
  • "I've been fancying for five years how he would come in. Get up and go out o_he door into the other room. I'll sit as though I weren't expecting anything, and I'll take up a book, and suddenly you'll come in after five years'
  • travelling. I want to see what it will be like."
  • Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch ground his teeth, and muttered something to himself.
  • "Enough," he said, striking the table with his open hand. "I beg you to liste_o me, Marya Timofyevna. Do me the favour to concentrate all your attention i_ou can. You're not altogether mad, you know!" he broke out impatiently.
  • "Tomorrow I shall make our marriage public. You never will live in a palace, get that out of your head. Do you want to live with me for the rest of you_ife, only very far away from here? In the mountains in Switzerland, there's _lace there… . Don't be afraid. I'll never abandon you or put you in _adhouse. I shall have money enough to live without asking anyone's help. Yo_hall have a servant, you shall do no work at all. Everything you want that'_ossible shall be got for you. You shall pray, go where you like, and do wha_ou like. I won't touch you. I won't go away from the place myself at all. I_ou like, I won't speak to you all my life, or if you like, you can tell m_our stories every evening as you used to do in Petersburg in the corners.
  • I'll read aloud to you if you like. But it must be all your life in the sam_lace, and that place is a gloomy one. Will you? Are you ready? You won'_egret it, torment me with tears and curses, will you?"
  • She listened with extreme curiosity, and for a long time she was silent, thinking.
  • "It all seems incredible to me," she said at last, ironically an_isdainfully. "I might live for forty years in those mountains," she laughed.
  • "What of it? Let's live forty years then … " said Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, scowling.
  • "H'm! I won't come for anything."
  • "Not even with me?"
  • "And what are you that I should go with you? I'm to sit on a mountain besid_im for forty years on enda pretty story! And upon my word, how long-sufferin_eople have become nowadays! No, it cannot be that a falcon has become an owl.
  • My prince is not like that!" she said, raising her head proudly an_riumphantly.
  • Light seemed to dawn upon him.
  • "What makes you call me a prince, and … for whom do you take me?" he aske_uickly.
  • "Why, aren't you the prince?"
  • "I never have been one."
  • "So yourself, yourself, you tell me straight to my face that you're not th_rince?"
  • "I tell you I never have been."
  • "Good Lord!" she cried, clasping her hands. "I was ready to expect anythin_rom his enemies, but such insolence, never! Is he alive?" she shrieked in _renzy, turning upon Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch. "Have you killed him? Confess!"
  • "Whom do you take me for?" he cried, jumping up from his chair with _istorted face; but it was not easy now to frighten her. She was triumphant.
  • "Who can tell who you are and where you've sprung from? Only my heart, m_eart had misgivings all these five years, of all the intrigues. And I've bee_itting here wondering what blind owl was making up to me? No, my dear, you'r_ poor actor, worse than Lebyadkin even. Give my humble greetings to th_ountess and tell her to send some one better than you. Has she hired you, tell me? Have they given you a place in her kitchen out of charity? I se_hrough your deception. I understand you all, every one of you."
  • He seized her firmly above the elbow; she laughed in his face.
  • "You're like him, very like, perhaps you're a relationyou're a sly lot! Onl_ine is a bright falcon and a prince, and you're an owl, and a shopman! Min_ill bow down to God if it pleases him, and won't if it doesn't. And Shatushka (he's my dear, my darling!) slapped you on the cheeks, my Lebyadkin told me.
  • And what were you afraid of then, when you came in? Who had frightened yo_hen? When I saw your mean face after I'd fallen down and you picked me upi_as like a worm crawling into my heart. It's not he, I thought, not he! M_alcon would never have been ashamed of me before a fashionable young lady. O_eavens! That alone kept me happy for those five years that my falcon wa_iving somewhere beyond the mountains, soaring, gazing at the sun… . Tell me, you impostor, have you got much by it I Did you need a big bribe to consent? _ouldn't have given you a farthing. Ha ha ha! Ha ha! … "
  • "Ugh, idiot!" snarled Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, still holding her tight by th_rm.
  • "Go away, impostor!" she shouted peremptorily. "I'm the wife of my prince; I'_ot afraid of your knife!"
  • "Knife!"
  • "Yes, knife, you've a knife in your pocket. You thought I was asleep but I sa_t. When you came in just now you took out your knife!"
  • "What are you saying, unhappy creature? What dreams you have!" he exclaimed, pushing her away from him with all his might, so that her head and shoulder_ell painfully against the sofa. He was rushing away; but she at once flew t_vertake him, limping and hopping, and though Lebyadkin, panic-stricken, hel_er back with all his might, she succeeded in shouting after him into th_arkness, shrieking and laughing:
  • "A curse on you, Grishka Otrepyev!"
  • "A knife, a knife," he repeated with uncontrollable anger, striding alon_hrough the mud and puddles, without picking his way. It is true that a_oments he had a terrible desire to laugh aloud frantically; but for som_eason he controlled himself and restrained his laughter. He recovered himsel_nly on the bridge, on the spot where Fedka had met him that evening. He foun_he man lying in wait for him again. Seeing Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch he too_ff his cap, grinned gaily, and began babbling briskly and merrily about- something. At first Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch walked on without stopping, an_or. some time did not even listen to the tramp who was pestering him again.
  • He was suddenly struck by the thought that he had entirely forgotten him, an_ad forgotten him at the very moment when he himself was repeating, "A knife, a knife." He seized the tramp by the collar and gave vent to his pent-up rag_y flinging him violently against the bridge. For one instant the man though_f fighting, but almost at once realising that compared with his adversary, who had fallen upon him unawares, he was no better than a wisp of straw, h_ubsided and was silent, without offering any resistance. Crouching on th_round with his elbows crooked behind his back, the wily tramp calmly waite_or what would happen next, apparently quite incredulous of danger. He wa_ight in his reckoning. Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch had already with his left han_aken off his thick scarf to tie his prisoner's arms, but suddenly, for som_eason, he abandoned him, and shoved him away. The man instantly sprang on t_is feet, turned round, and a short, broad boot-knife suddenly gleamed in hi_and.
  • "Away with that knife; put it away, at once!" Nikolay Vsyevolodovitc_ommanded with an impatient gesture, and the knife vanished as instantaneousl_s it had appeared.
  • Without speaking again or turning round, Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch went on hi_ay. But the persistent vagabond did not leave him even now, though now, it i_rue, he did not chatter, and even respectfully kept his distance, a full ste_ehind.
  • They crossed the bridge like this and came out on to the river bank, turnin_his time to the left, again into a long deserted back street, which led t_he centre of the town by a shorter way than going through Bogoyavlensk_treet.
  • "Is it true, as they say, that you robbed a church in the district the othe_ay?" Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch asked suddenly.
  • "I went in to say my prayers in the first place," the tramp answered, sedatel_nd respectfully as though nothing had happened; more than sedately, in fact, almost with dignity. There was no trace of his former "friendly" familiarity.
  • All that was to be seen was a serious, business-like man, who had indeed bee_ratuitously insulted, but who was capable of overlooking an insult.
  • "But when the Lord led me there," he went on, "ech, I thought what a heavenl_bundance! It was all owing to my helpless state, as in our way of lif_here's no doing without assistance. And, now, God be my witness, sir, it wa_y own loss. The Lord punished me for my sins, and what with the censer an_he deacon's halter, I only got twelve roubles altogether. The chin setting o_t. Nikolay of pure silver went for next to nothing. They said it was plated."
  • "You killed the watchman?"
  • "That is, I cleared the place out together with that watchman, but afterwards, next morning, by the river, we fell to quarrelling which should carry th_ack. I sinned, I did lighten his load for him."
  • "Well, you can rob and murder again."
  • "That's the very advice Pyotr Stepanovitch gives me, in the very same words, for he's uncommonly mean and hard-hearted about helping a fellow-creature. An_hat's more, he hasn't a ha'porth of belief in the Heavenly Creator, who mad_s out of earthly clay; but he says it's all the work of nature even to th_ast beast. He doesn't understand either that with our way of life it'_mpossible for us to get along without friendly assistance. If you begin t_alk to him he looks like a sheep at the water; it makes one wonder. Would yo_elieve, at Captain Lebyadkin's, out yonder, whom your honour's just bee_isiting, when he was living at Filipov's, before you came, the door stoo_pen all night long.He'd be drunk and sleeping like the dead, and his mone_ropping out of his pockets all over the floor. I've chanced to see it with m_wn eyes, for in our way of life it's impossible to live without assistance… ."
  • "How do you mean with your own eyes? Did you go in at night then?"
  • "Maybe I did go in, but no one knows of it."
  • "Why didn't you kill him?"
  • "Reckoning it out, I steadied myself. For once having learned for sure that _an always get one hundred and fifty roubles, why should I go so far when _an get fifteen hundred roubles, if I only bide my time. For Captain Lebyadkin (I've heard him with my own ears) had great hopes of you when he was drunk; and there isn't a tavern herenot the lowest pot-housewhere he hasn't talke_bout it when he was in that state. So that hearing it from many lips, _egan, too, to rest all my hopes on your excellency. I speak to you, sir, a_o my father, or my own brother; for Pyotr Stepanovitch will never learn tha_rom me, and not a soul in the world. So won't your excellency spare me thre_oubles in your kindness? You might set my mind at rest, so that I might kno_he real truth; for we can't get on without assistance."
  • Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch laughed aloud, and taking out his purse, in which h_ad as much as fifty roubles, in small notes, threw him one note out of th_undle, then a second, a third, a fourth. Fedka flew to catch them in the air.
  • The notes dropped into the mud, and he snatched them up crying, "Ech! ech!"
  • Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch finished by flinging the whole bundle at him, and, still laughing, went on down the street, this time alone. The tramp remaine_rawling on his knees in the mud, looking for the notes which were blown abou_y the wind and soaking in the puddles, and for an hour after his spasmodi_ries of "Ech! ech!" were still to be heard in the darkness.