Three days after the fatal night, at nine o'clock in the morning, Herman_epaired to the Convent of ——, where the last honours were to be paid to th_ortal remains of the old Countess. Although feeling no remorse, he could no_ltogether stifle the voice of conscience, which said to him: "You are th_urderer of the old woman!" In spite of his entertaining very little religiou_elief, he was exceedingly superstitious; and believing that the dead Countes_ight exercise an evil influence on his life, he resolved to be present at he_bsequies in order to implore her pardon.
The church was full. It was with difficulty that Hermann made his way throug_he crowd of people. The coffin was placed upon a rich catafalque beneath _elvet baldachin. The deceased Countess lay within it, with her hands crosse_pon her breast, with a lace cap upon her head and dressed in a white sati_obe. Around the catafalque stood the members of her household: the servant_n black _caftans_, with armorial ribbons upon their shoulders, and candles i_heir hands; the relatives—children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren—i_eep mourning.
Nobody wept; tears would have been _une affectation_. The Countess was so old,
that her death could have surprised nobody, and her relatives had long looke_pon her as being out of the world. A famous preacher pronounced the funera_ermon. In simple and touching words he described the peaceful passing away o_he righteous, who had passed long years in calm preparation for a Christia_nd. "The angel of death found her," said the orator, "engaged in piou_editation and waiting for the midnight bridegroom."
The service concluded amidst profound silence. The relatives went forwar_irst to take farewell of the corpse. Then followed the numerous guests, wh_ad come to render the last homage to her who for so many years had been _articipator in their frivolous amusements. After these followed the member_f the Countess's household. The last of these was an old woman of the sam_ge as the deceased. Two young women led her forward by the hand. She had no_trength enough to bow down to the ground—she merely shed a few tears an_issed the cold hand of her mistress.
Hermann now resolved to approach the coffin. He knelt down upon the col_tones and remained in that position for some minutes; at last he arose, a_ale as the deceased Countess herself; he ascended the steps of the catafalqu_nd bent over the corpse… At that moment it seemed to him that the dead woma_arted a mocking look at him and winked with one eye. Hermann started back,
took a false step and fell to the ground. Several persons hurried forward an_aised him up. At the same moment Lizaveta Ivanovna was borne fainting int_he porch of the church. This episode disturbed for some minutes the solemnit_f the gloomy ceremony. Among the congregation arose a deep murmur, and a tal_hin chamberlain, a near relative of the deceased, whispered in the ear of a_nglishman who was standing near him, that the young officer was a natural so_f the Countess, to which the Englishman coldly replied: "Oh!"
During the whole of that day, Hermann was strangely excited. Repairing to a_ut-of-the-way restaurant to dine, he drank a great deal of wine, contrary t_is usual custom, in the hope of deadening his inward agitation. But the win_nly served to excite his imagination still more. On returning home, he thre_imself upon his bed without undressing, and fell into a deep sleep.
When he woke up it was already night, and the moon was shining into the room.
He looked at his watch: it was a quarter to three. Sleep had left him; he sa_own upon his bed and thought of the funeral of the old Countess.
At that moment somebody in the street looked in at his window, and immediatel_assed on again. Hermann paid no attention to this incident. A few moment_fterwards he heard the door of his ante-room open. Hermann thought that i_as his orderly, drunk as usual, returning from some nocturnal expedition, bu_resently he heard footsteps that were unknown to him: somebody was walkin_oftly over the floor in slippers. The door opened, and a woman dressed i_hite, entered the room. Hermann mistook her for his old nurse, and wondere_hat could bring her there at that hour of the night. But the white woma_lided rapidly across the room and stood before him—and Hermann recognised th_ountess!
"I have come to you against my wish," she said in a firm voice: "but I hav_een ordered to grant your request. Three, seven, ace, will win for you i_layed in succession, but only on these conditions: that you do not play mor_han one card in twenty-four hours, and that you never play again during th_est of your life. I forgive you my death, on condition that you marry m_ompanion, Lizaveta Ivanovna."
With these words she turned round very quietly, walked with a shuffling gai_owards the door and disappeared. Hermann heard the street-door open and shut,
and again he saw some one look in at him through the window.
For a long time Hermann could not recover himself. He then rose up and entere_he next room. His orderly was lying asleep upon the floor, and he had muc_ifficulty in waking him. The orderly was drunk as usual, and no informatio_ould be obtained from him. The street-door was locked. Hermann returned t_is room, lit his candle, and wrote down all the details of his vision.