Sitting down beside Pavel in the cart, Nejdanov fell into a state of grea_xcitement. As soon as they rolled out of the courtyard onto the high roa_eading to T. he began shouting out the most absurd things to the peasants h_et on the way. "Why are you asleep? Rouse yourself! The time has come! Dow_ith the taxes! Down with the landlords!"
Some of the peasants stared at him in amazement, others passed on withou_aking any notice of him, thinking that he was drunk; one even said when h_ot home that he had met a Frenchman on the way who was jabbering away a_omething he did not understand. Nejdanov had common sense enough to know tha_hat he was doing was unutterably stupid and absurd had he not got himself u_o such a pitch of excitement that he was no longer able to discriminat_etween sense and nonsense. Pavel tried to quiet him, saying that it wa_mpossible to go on like that; that they were quite near a large village, th_irst on the borders of T., and that there they could look around… . Bu_ejdanov would not calm down, and at the same time his face bore a sad, almos_espairing, expression. Their horse was an energetic, round little thing, wit_ clipped mane on its scraggy neck. It tugged at the reins, and its stron_ittle legs flew as fast as they could, just as if it were conscious o_earing important people to the scene of action. Just before they reached th_illage, Nejdanov saw a group of about eight peasants standing by the side o_he road at the closed doors of a granary. He instantly jumped out of th_art, rushed up to them, and began shouting at them, thumping his fists an_esticulating for about five minutes. The words "For Freedom! March on! Pu_he shoulder to the wheel!" could be distinguished from among the rest of hi_onfused words.
The peasants, who had met before the granary for the purpose of discussing ho_o fill it once more—if only to show that they were doing something (it wa_he communal granary and consequently empty)—fixed their eyes on Nejdanov an_eemed to listen to him with the greatest attention, but they had evidentl_ot understood a word he had said, for no sooner was his back turned, shoutin_or the last time "Freedom!" as he rushed away, when one of them, the mos_agacious of the lot, shook his head saying, "What a severe one!" "He must b_n officer," another remarked, to which the wise one said: "We know all abou_hat—he doesn't talk for nothing. We'll have to pay the piper."
"Heavens! what nonsense this all is! " Nejdanov thought to himself, as he sa_own next to Pavel in the cart. "But then none of us know how to get at th_eople—perhaps this is the right way after all! Who knows? Go on! Does you_eart ache? Let it!"
They found themselves in the main street of the village in the middle of whic_ number of people were gathered together before a tavern. Nejdanov, paying n_eed to Pavel, who was trying to hold him back, leapt down from the cart wit_ cry of "Brothers!" The crowd made way for him and he again began preaching,
looking neither to right nor left, as if furious and weeping at the same time.
But things turned out quite differently than with his former attempt at th_arn. An enormous fellow with a clean- shaven, vicious face, in a short greas_oat, high boots, and a sheepskin cap, came up to him and clapped him on th_houlder.
"All right! my fine fellow!" he bawled out in a wheezy voice; "but wait a bit!
good deeds must be rewarded. Come along in here. It'll be much better talkin_n there." He pulled Nejdanov into the tavern, the others streamed in afte_hem. "Michaitch!" the fellow shouted, "twopennyworth! My favourite drink! _ant to treat a friend. Who he is, what's his family, and where he's from,
only the devil knows! Drink!" he said, turning to Nejdanov and handing him _eavy, full glass, wet all over on the outside, as though perspiring, "drink,
if you really have any feeling for us!" "Drink!" came a chorus of voices.
Nejdanov, who seemed as if in a fever, seized the glass and with a cry of " _rink to you, children!" drank it off at a gulp. Ugh! He drank it off with th_ame desperate heroism with which he would have flung himself in storming _attery or on a line of bayonets. But what was happening to him? Somethin_eemed to have struck his spine, his legs, burned his throat, his chest, hi_tomach, made the tears come into his eyes. A shudder of disgust passed al_ver him. He began shouting at the top of his voice to drown the throbbing i_is head. The dark tavern room suddenly became hot and thick an_uffocating—and people, people everywhere! Nejdanov began talking, talkin_ncessantly, shouting furiously, in exasperation, shaking broad rough hands,
kissing prickly beards… . The enormous fellow in the greasy coat kissed hi_oo, nearly breaking his ribs. This fellow turned out to be a perfect fiend.
"I'll wring the neck," he shouted, "I'll wring the neck of anyone who dares t_ffend our brother! And what's more, I'll make mincemeat of him too … I'l_ake him cry out! That's nothing to me. I was a butcher and know how to d_uch jobs!" At this he held up an enormous fist covered with freckles. Someon_gain shouted, "Drink!" and Nejdanov again swallowed a glass of the filth_oison. But this second time was truly awful! Blunt hooks seemed to be tearin_im to pieces inside. His head was in a whirl, green circles swam before hi_yes. A hubbub arose … 0h horror! a third glass. Was it possible he emptie_hat too? He seemed to be surrounded by purple noses, dusty heads of hair,
tanned necks covered with nets of wrinkles. Rough hands seized him. "Go on!"
they bawled out in angry voices, "talk away! The day before yesterday anothe_tranger talked like that. Go on." The earth seemed reeling under Nejdanov'_eet, his voice sounded strange to his own ears as though coming from a lon_ay off… Was it death or what?
And suddenly he felt the fresh air blowing about his face, no more pushing an_hoving, no more stench of spirits, sheep-skin, tar, nor leather… . He wa_gain sitting beside Pavel in the cart, struggling at first and shouting,
"Where are you off to? Stop! I haven't had time to tell them anything— I mus_xplain… " and then added, "and what are your own ideas on the subject, yo_ly-boots?"
"It would certainly be well if there were no gentry and the land belonged t_s, of course," Pavel replied, " but there's been no such order from th_overnment." He quietly turned the horse's head and, suddenly lashing it o_he back with the reins, set off at full gallop, away from this din an_proar, back to the factory.
Nejdanov sat dozing, rocked by the motion of the cart, while the wind playe_leasantly about his face and kept back gloomy depressing thoughts.
He was annoyed that he had not been allowed to say all that he had wanted t_ay. Again the wind caressed his overheated face.
And then—a momentary glimpse of Mariana—a burning sense of shame—and sleep,
deep, sound sleep…
Pavel told Solomin all this afterwards, not hiding the fact that he did no_ttempt to prevent Nejdanov from drinking— otherwise he could not have got hi_ut of the whirl. The others would not have let him go.
"When he seemed to be getting very feeble, I asked them to let him off, an_hey agreed to, on condition that I gave them a shilling, so I gave it them."
Nejdanov slept, while Mariana sat at the window looking out into the garden.
Strange to say the angry, almost wicked, thoughts that had been tormenting he_ntil Nejdanov and Pavel arrived had completely disappeared. Nejdanov himsel_as not in the least repulsive or disgusting to her; she was only sorry fo_im. She knew quite well that he was not a debauchee, a drunkard, and wa_ondering what she would say to him when he woke up; something friendly an_ffectionate to minimise the first sting of conscience and shame. "I must tr_nd get him to tell me himself how it all happened," she thought.
She was not disturbed, but depressed—hopelessly depressed. It seemed as if _reath of the real atmosphere of the world towards which she was striving ha_lown on her suddenly, making her shudder at its coarseness and darkness. Wha_oloch was this to which she was going to sacrifice herself?
But no! It could not be! This was merely an incident, it would soon pass over.
A momentary impression that had struck her so forcibly because it had happene_o unexpectedly. She got up, walked over to the couch on which Nejdanov wa_ying, took out her pocket-handkerchief and wiped his pale forehead, which wa_ainfully drawn, even in sleep, and smoothed back his hair…
She pitied him as a mother pities her suffering child. But it was somewha_ainful for her to look at him, so she went quietly into her own room, leavin_he door unlocked.
She did not attempt to take any work in her hand. She sat down and thought_egan crowding in upon her. She felt how the time was slipping away, how on_inute flew after another, and the sensation was even pleasant to her. He_eart beat fast and again she seemed to be waiting for something.
What has become of Solomin?
The door creaked softly and Tatiana came into the room. "What do you want?"
Mariana asked with a shade of annoyance.
"Mariana Vikentievna," Tatiana began in an undertone, "don't worry, my dear.
Such things happen every day. Besides, the Lord be thanked—"
"I am not worrying at all, Tatiana Osipovna," Mariana interrupted her. "Alexa_mitritch is a little indisposed, nothing very serious!"
"That's all right! I wondered why you didn't come, and thought there might b_omething the matter with you. But still I wouldn't have come in to you. It'_lways best not to interfere. But someone has come— a little lame man, th_ord knows who he is— and demands to see Alexai Dmitritch! I wonder what for?
This morning that female came for him and now this little cripple. 'If Alexa_mitritch is not at home,' he says, 'then I must see Vassily Fedotitch! _on't go away without seeing him. It's on a very urgent matter.' We wanted t_et rid of him, as we did of that woman, told him Vassily Fedotitch was not a_ome, but he is determined to see him even if he has to wait until midnight.
There he is walking about in the yard. Come and have a look at him through th_ittle window in the corridor. Perhaps you'll recognise him."
Mariana followed Tatiana out into the corridor, and on passing Nejdanov wa_gain struck by that painful frown on his forehead and passed her pocket-
handkerchief over it a second time.
Through the dusty little window she caught a glimpse of the visitor who_atiana had spoken of. He was unknown to her. At this moment Solomin appeare_rom a corner of the house.
The little cripple rushed up to him and extended his hand. Solomin pressed it.
He was obviously acquainted with him. They both disappeared… Soon thei_ootsteps were heard coming up the stairs. They were coming to see her.
Mariana fled into her own room and remained standing in the middle of it,
hardly able to breathe. She was mortally afraid … but of what? She did no_now herself.
Solomin's head appeared through the door.
"Mariana Vikentievna, can I come in? I have brought someone whom it'_bsolutely necessary for you to see."
Mariana merely nodded her head in reply and behind Solomin in walked— Paklin.