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Chapter 32

  • IT happened like this.
  • 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."
  • "You acted quite rightly," Solomin said, approvingly.
  • 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.