Meanwhile an incident had occurred which astounded me and shattered Stepa_rofimovitch. At eight o'clock in the morning Nastasya ran round to me fro_im with the news that her master was "raided." At first I could not make ou_hat she meant; I could only gather that the "raid" was carried out b_fficials, that they had come and taken his papers, and that a soldier ha_ied them up in a bundle and "wheeled them away in a barrow." It was _antastic story. I hurried at once to Stepan Trofimovitch.
I found him in a surprising condition: upset and in great agitation, but a_he same time unmistakably triumphant. On the table in the middle of the roo_he samovar was boiling, and there was a glass of tea poured out but untouche_nd forgotten. Stepan Trofimovitch was wandering round the table and peepin_nto every corner of the room, unconscious of what he was doing. He wa_earing his usual red knitted jacket, but seeing me, he hurriedly put on hi_oat and waistcoata thing he had never done before when any of his intimat_riends found him in his jacket. He took me warmly by the hand at once.
"Enfin un ami!" (He heaved a deep sigh.) "Cher, I've sent to you only, and n_ne knows anything. We must give Nastasya orders to lock the doors and no_dmit anyone, except, of course them… . Vous comprenez?"
He looked at me uneasily, as though expecting a reply. I made haste, o_ourse, to question him, and from his disconnected and broken sentences, ful_f unnecessary parentheses, I succeeded in learning that at seven o'clock tha_orning an official of the province had 'all of a sudden' called on him.
"Pardon, j'ai oublie son nom, Il n'est pas du pays, but I think he came to th_own with Lembke, quelque chose de bete et d'Allemand dans la physionomie. I_'appelle Bosenthal."
"Wasn't it Blum?"
"Yes, that was his name. Vous le connaissez? Quelque chose d'Maite et de tre_ontent dans la figure, pomtant tres severe, roide et serieux. A type of th_olice, of the submissive subordinates, je m'y connais. I was still asleep, and, would you believe it, he asked to have a look at my books an_anuscripts! Oui, je m'en souviens, il a employe ce mot. He did not arrest me, but only the books. Il se tenait a distance, and when he began to explain hi_isit he looked as though I … enfin il avait Vair de croire que je tombera_ur lui immediatement et que je commen-cerai a le battre comme platre. Tou_es gens du bas etage sont comme ca when they have to do with a gentleman. _eed hardly say I understood it all at once. Voild vingt ans que je m'_repare. I opened all the drawers and handed him all the keys; I gave the_yself, I gave him all. J'etais digne et calme. From the books he took th_oreign edition of Herzen, the bound volume of The Sell, four copies of m_oem, et enfin tout fa. Then he took my letters and my papers et quelques-une_e mes ebauches historiques, critiques et politiques. All that they carrie_ff. Nastasya says that a soldier wheeled them away in a barrow and covere_hem with an apron; oui, c'est cela, with an apron." It sounded like delirium.
Who could make head or tail of it? I pelted him with questions again. Had Blu_ome alone, or with others? On whose authority? By what right? How had h_ared? How did he explain it?
"Il etait seul, bien seul, but there was some one else dans I'antichambre, oui, je m'en souviens, et puis … Though I believe there was some one els_esides, and there was a guard standing in the entry. You must ask Nastasya; she knows all about it better than I do. J'etais surexcite, voyez-vous. I_arlait, il parlait … un tas de chases; he said very little though, it was _aid all that… . I told him the story of my life, simply from that point o_iew, of course. J'etais surexcite, mais digne, je vous assure… . I am afraid, though, I may have shed tears. They got the barrow from the shop next door."
"Oh, heavens! how could all this have happened? But for mercy's sake, spea_ore exactly, Stepan Trofimovitch. What you tell me sounds like a dream."
"Cher, I feel as though I were in a dream myself… . Savez-vous! Il a prononc_e nom de Telyatnikof, and I believe that that man was concealed in the entry.
Yes, I remember, he suggested: calling the prosecutor and Dmitri Dmitritch, _elieve … ; qui me doit encore quinze roubles I won at cards, soit Ait e_assant. Enfin, je n'ai pas trop compris. But I got the better of them, an_hat do I care for Dmitri Dmitritch? I believe I begged him very earnestly t_eep it quiet; I begged him particularly, most particularly. I am afraid _emeaned myself, in fact, comment croyez-vous? Enfin il a consenti. Yes, _emember, he suggested that himselfthat it would be better to keep it quiet, for he had only come 'to have a look round' et rien de plus, and nothing more, nothing more … and that if they find nothing, nothing will happen. So that w_nded it all en amis, je suis tout a fait content."
"Why, then he suggested the usual course of proceedings in such cases an_egular guarantees, and you rejected them yourself," I cried with friendl_ndignation.
"Yes, it's better without the guarantees. And why make a scandal? Let's kee_t en amis so long as we can. You know, in our town, if they get to know it … mes ennemis, et puis, a quoi bon, le procureur, ce cochon de notre procureur, qui deux fois m'a manque de politesse et qu'on a rosse a plaisir Vautre anne_hez cette charmante et belle Natalya Pavlovna quand il se cacha dans so_oudoir. Et puis, mon ami, don't make objections and don't depress me, I be_ou, for nothing is more unbearable when a man is in trouble than for _undred friends to point out to him what a fool he has made of himself. Si_own though and have some tea. I must admit I am awfully tired… . Hadn't _etter lie down and put vinegar on my head? What do you think?"
"Certainly," I cried, "ice even. You are very much upset. You are pale an_our hands are trembling. Lie down, rest, and put off telling me. I'll sit b_ou and wait."
He hesitated, but I insisted on his lying down. Nastasya brought a cup o_inegar. I wetted a towel and laid it on his head. Then Nastasya stood on _hair and began lighting a lamp before the ikon in the corner. I noticed thi_ith surprise; there had never been a lamp there before and now suddenly i_ad made its appearance.
"I arranged for that as soon as they had gone away," muttered Stepa_rofimovitch, looking at me slyly. "Quand on a de ces choses-la dans s_hambre et qu'on vient vous arreter it makes an impression and they are sur_o report that they have seen it… ."
When she had done the lamp, Nastasya stood in the doorway, leaned her cheek i_er right hand, and began gazing at him with a lachrymose air.
"Eloignez-la on some excuse," he nodded to me from the sofa. "I can't endur_his Russian sympathy, et puis ca m'embete."
But she went away of herself. I noticed that he kept looking towards the doo_nd listening for sounds in the passage.
"Il faut etre prit, voyez-vous," he said, looking at me significantly, "chaqu_oment … they may come and take one and, phew!a man disappears."
"Heavens! who'll come? Who will take you?"
"Voyez-vous, mon cher, I asked straight out when he was going away, what woul_hey do to me now."
"You'd better have asked them where you'd be exiled!" I cried out in the sam_ndignation.
"That's just what I meant when I asked, but he went away without answering.
Voyez-vous: as for linen, clothes, warm things especially, that must be a_hey decide; if they tell me to take themall right, or they might send me in _oldier's overcoat. But I thrust thirty-five roubles" (he suddenly dropped hi_oice, looking towards the door by which Nastasya had gone out) "in a slit i_y waistcoat pocket, here, feel… . I believe they won't take the waistcoa_ff, and left seven roubles in my purse to keep up appearances, as though tha_ere all I have. You see, it's in small change and the coppers are on th_able, so they won't guess that I've hidden the money, but will suppose tha_hat's all. For God knows where I may have to sleep to-night!"
I bowed my head before such madness. It was obvious that a man could not b_rrested and searched in the way he was describing, and he must have mixe_hings up. It's true it all happened in the days before our present, mor_ecent regulations. It is true, too, that according to his own account the_ad offered to follow the more regular procedure, but he "got the better o_hem" and refused… . Of course not long ago a governor might, in extrem_ases… . But how could this be an extreme case? That's what baffled me.
"No doubt they had a telegram from Petersburg," Stepan Trofimovitch sai_uddenly.
"A telegram? About you? Because of the works of Herzen and your poem? Have yo_aken leave of your senses? What is there in that to arrest you for?"
I was positively angry. He made a grimace and was evidently mortifiednot at m_xclamation, but at the idea that there was no ground for arrest.
"Who can tell in our day what he may not be arrested for?" he muttere_nigmatically.
A wild and nonsensical idea crossed my mind.
"Stepan Trofimovitch, tell me as a friend," I cried, "as a real friend, I wil_ot betray you: do you belong to some secret society or not?"
And on this, to my amazement, he was not quite certain whether he was or wa_ot a member of some secret society.
"That depends, voyez-vous."'
"How do you mean 'it depends'?"
"When with one's whole heart one is an adherent of progress and … who ca_nswer it? You may suppose you don't belong, and suddenly it turns out tha_ou do belong to some thing."
"Now is that possible? It's a case of yes or no."
"Cela date de Petersburg when she and I were meaning to found a magazin_here. That's what's at the root of it. She gave them the slip then, and the_orgot us, but now they've remembered. Cher, cher, don't you know me?" h_ried hysterically. "And they'll take us, put us in a cart, and march us of_o Siberia for ever, or forget us in prison."
And he suddenly broke into bitter weeping. His tears positively streamed. H_overed his face with his red silk handkerchief and sobbed, sobbe_onvulsively for five minutes. It wrung my heart. This was the man who ha_een a prophet among us for twenty years, a leader, a patriarch, the Kukolni_ho had borne himself so loftily and majestically before all of us, befor_hom we bowed down with genuine reverence, feeling proud of doing soand all o_ sudden here he was sobbing, sobbing like a naughty child waiting for the ro_hich the teacher is fetching for him. I felt fearfully sorry for him. H_elieved in the reality of that "cart" as he believed that I was sitting b_is side, and he expected it that morning, at once, that very minute, and al_his on account of his Herzen and some poem! Such complete, absolute ignoranc_f everyday reality was touching and somehow repulsive.
At last he left off crying, got up from the sofa and began walking about th_oom again, continuing to talk to me, though he looked out of the window ever_inute and listened to every sound in the passage. Our conversation was stil_isconnected. All my assurances and attempts to console him rebounded from hi_ike peas from a wall. He scarcely listened, but yet what he needed was that _hould console him and keep on talking with that object. I saw that he coul_ot do without me now, and would not let me go for anything. I remained, an_e spent more than two hours together. In conversation he recalled that Blu_ad taken with him two manifestoes he had found.
"Manifestoes!" I said, foolishly frightened. "Do you mean to say you … "
"Oh, ten were left here," he answered with vexation (he talked to me at on_oment in a vexed and haughty tone and at the next with dreadful plaintivenes_nd humiliation), "but I had disposed of eight already, and Blum only foun_wo." And he suddenly flushed with indignation. "Vous me mettez avec ces gens- la! Do you suppose I could be working with those scoundrels, those anonymou_ibellers, with my son Pyotr Stepanovitch, avec ces esprits forts de l_chete? Oh, heavens!"
"Bah! haven't they mixed you up perhaps? … But it's nonsense, it can't be so,"
"Savez-vous," broke from him suddenly, "I feel at moments que je ferai id-ba_uelque esclandre. Oh, don't go away, don't leave me alone! Ma carriere es_inie aujourd'hui, je le sens. Do you know, I might fall on somebody there an_ite him, like that lieutenant."
He looked at me with a strange expressionalarmed, and at the same time anxiou_o alarm me. He certainly was getting more and more exasperated with somebod_nd about something as time went on and the police-cart did not appear; he wa_ositively wrathful. Suddenly Nastasya, who had come from the kitchen into th_assage for some reason, upset a clothes-horse there. Stepan Trofimovitc_rembled and turned numb with terror as he sat; but when the noise wa_xplained, he almost shrieked at Nastasya and, stamping, drove her back to th_itchen. A minute later he said, looking at me in despair: "I am ruined!
Cher"he sat down suddenly beside me and looked piteously into my face" cher, it's not Siberia I am afraid of, I swear. Oh, je vous jure!" (Tears positivel_tood in his eyes.) "It's something else I fear."
I saw from his expression that he wanted at last to tell me something of grea_mportance which he had till now refrained from telling.
"I am afraid of disgrace," he whispered mysteriously. "What disgrace? On th_ontrary! Believe me, Stepan Trofimovitch, that all this will be explained to- day and will end to your advantage… ."
"Are you so sure that they will pardon me?"
"Pardon you? What! What a word! What have you done? I assure you you've don_othing."
"Qu'en savez-vous; all my life has been … cher … They'll remember everything … and if they find nothing, it will be worse still," he added all of a sudden, unexpectedly. "How do you mean it will be worse?"
"It will be worse."
"I don't understand."
"My friend, let it be Siberia, Archangel, loss of rightsif I must perish, le_e perish! But … I am afraid of something else." (Again whispering, a scare_ace, mystery.) "But of what? Of what?"
"They'll flog me," he pronounced, looking at me with a face of despair.
"Who'll flog you? What for? Where?" I cried, feeling alarmed that he was goin_ut of his mind.
"Where? Why there … where 'that's' done."
"But where is it done?"
"Eh, cher,'" he whispered almost in my ear. "The floor suddenly gives wa_nder you, you drop half through… . Every one knows that."
"Legends!" I cried, guessing what he meant. "Old tales. Can you have believe_hem till now?" I laughed.
"Tales! But there must be foundation for them; flogged men tell no tales. I'v_magined it ten thousand times."
"But you, why you? You've done nothing, you know."
"That makes it worse. They'll find out I've done nothing and flog me for it."
"And you are sure that you'll be taken to Petersburg for that."
"My friend, I've told you already that I regret nothing, ma carriere es_inie. From that hour when she said good-bye to me at Skvoreshniki my life ha_ad no value for me … but disgrace, disgrace, que dira-t-elle if she find_ut?"
He looked at me in despair. And the poor fellow flushed all over. I dropped m_yes too.
"She'll find out nothing, for nothing will happen to you. I feel as if I wer_peaking to you for the first time in my life, Stepan Trofimovitch, you'v_stonished me so this morning."
"But, my friend, this isn't fear. For even if I am pardoned, even if I a_rought here and nothing is done to methen I am undone. Elle me soupfonner_oute sa vieme, me, the poet, the thinker, the man whom she has worshipped fo_wenty-two years!"
"It will never enter her head."
"It will," he whispered with profound conviction. "We've talked of it severa_imes in Petersburg, in Lent, before we came away, when we were both afraid… .
Elle me soupfonnera toute sa vie … and how can I disabuse her? It won't soun_ikely. And in this wretched town who'd believe it, c'est invraisemblable… .
Et puis les femmes, she will be pleased. She will be genuinely grieved like _rue friend, but secretly she will be pleased… . I shall give her a weapo_gainst me for the rest of my life. Oh, it's all over with me! Twenty years o_uch perfect happiness with her … and now!" He hid his face in his hands.
"Stepan Trofimovitch, oughtn't you to let Varvara Petrovna know at once o_hat has happened?" I suggested.
"God preserve me!" he cried, shuddering and leaping up from his place. "On n_ccount, never, after what was said at parting at Skvoreshnikinever!" His eye_lashed.
We went on sitting together another hour or more, I believe, expectin_omething all the timethe idea had taken such hold of us. He lay down again, even closed his eyes, and lay for twenty minutes without uttering a word, s_hat I thought he was asleep or unconscious. Suddenly he got up impulsively, pulled the towel off his head, jumped up from the sofa, rushed to the looking- glass, with trembling hands tied his cravat, and in a voice of thunder calle_o Nastasya, telling her to give him his overcoat, his new hat and his stick.
"I can bear no more," he said in a breaking voice. "I can't, I can't! I a_oing myself."
"Where?" I cried, jumping up too.
"To Lembke. Cher, I ought, I am obliged. It's my duty. I am a citizen and _an, not a worthless chip. I have rights; I want my rights… . For twenty year_'ve not insisted on my rights. All my life I've neglected them criminally … but now I'll demand them. He must tell me everythingeverything. He received _elegram. He dare not torture me; if so, let him arrest me, let him arres_e!"
He stamped and vociferated almost with shrieks. "I approve of what you say," _aid, speaking as calmly as possible, on purpose, though I was very muc_fraid for him.
"Certainly it is better than sitting here in such misery, but I can't approv_f your state of mind. Just see what you look like and in what a state you ar_oing there! Il faut etre digne et calme avec Lembke. You really might rush a_ome one there and bite him."
"I am giving myself up. I am walking straight into the jaws of the Hon… ."
"I'll go with you."
"I expected no less of you, I accept your sacrifice, the sacrifice of a tru_riend; but only as far as the house, only as far as the house. You ought not, you have no right to compromise yourself further by being my confederate. Oh, croyez-moi, je serai calme. I feel that I am at this moment d la hauteur d_out ce que il y a de plus sacre." …
"I may perhaps go into the house with you," I interrupted him. "I had _essage from their stupid committee yesterday through Vysotsky that the_eckon on me and invite me to the file to-morrow as one of the stewards o_hatever it is … one of the six young men whose duty it is to look after th_rays, wait on the ladies, take the guests to their places, and wear a rosett_f crimson and white ribbon on the left shoulder. I meant to refuse, but no_hy shouldn't I go into the house on the excuse of seeing Yulia Mihailovn_erself about it? … So we will go in together."
He listened, nodding, but I think he understood nothing. We stood on th_hreshold.
"Cher"he stretched out his arm to the lamp before the ikon" cher, I have neve_elieved in this, but … so be it, so be it!" He crossed himself." Allans!"
"Well, that's better so," I thought as I went out on to the steps with him.
"The fresh air will do him good on the way, and we shall calm down, turn back, and go home to bed… ."
But I reckoned without my host. On the way an adventure occurred whic_gitated Stepan Trofimovitch even more, and finally determined him to go on … so that I should never have expected of our friend so much spirit as h_uddenly displayed that morning. Poor friend, kind-hearted friend!