THE governor of S. was one of those good-natured, happy-go-lucky, worldl_enerals who, endowed with wonderfully clean, snow-white bodies and souls t_atch, of good breeding and education, are turned out of a mill where they ar_ever ground down to becoming the "shepherds of the people." Nevertheless the_rove themselves capable of a tolerable amount of administrative ability— d_ittle work, but are forever sighing after St. Petersburg and paying court t_ll the pretty women of the place. These are men who in some unaccountable wa_ecome useful to their province and manage to leave pleasant memories behin_hem. The governor had only just got out of bed, and was comfortably seate_efore his dressing-table in his night-shirt and silk dressing-gown, bathin_is face and neck with eau-de-cologne after having removed a whole collectio_f charms and coins dangling from it, when he was informed of the arrival o_ipiagin and Kollomietzev upon some urgent business. He was very familiar wit_ipiagin, having known him from childhood and constantly run across him in St.
Petersburg drawing-rooms, and lately he had begun to ejaculate a respectful
"Ah! " every time his name occurred to him—as if he saw in him a futur_tatesman. Kollomietzev he did not know so well and respected less i_onsequence of various unpleasant complaints that had been made against him; however, he looked upon him as a man qui fera chemin in any case.
He ordered his guests to be shown into his study, where he soon joined them, as he was, in his silk dressing-gown, and not so much as excusing himself fo_eceiving them in such an unofficial costume, shook hands with them heartily.
Only Sipiagin and Kollomietzev appeared in the governor's study; Pakli_emained in the drawing-room. On getting out of the carriage he had tried t_lip away, muttering that he had some business at home, but Sipiagin ha_etained him with a polite firmness (Kollomietzev had rushed up to him an_hispered in his ear: "Ne le lacher pas! Tonnerre de tonnerres!") and take_im in. He had not, however, taken him to the study, but had asked him, wit_he same polite firmness, to wait in the drawing-room until he was wanted.
Even here Paklin had hoped to escape, but a robust gendarme at Kollomietzev'_nstruction appeared in the doorway; so Paklin remained.
"I dare say you've guessed what has brought me to you, Voldemar," Sipiagi_egan.
"No, my dear, no, I can't," the amiable Epicurean replied, while a smile o_elcome played about his rosy cheeks, showing a glimpse of shiny teeth, hal_idden by his silky moustache.
"What? Don't you know about Markelov?"
"What do you mean? What Markelov?" the governor repeated with the same joyfu_xpression on his face. He did not remember, in the first place, that the ma_ho was arrested yesterday was called Markelov, and, in the second, he ha_uite forgotten that Sipiagin's wife had a brother of that name. "But why ar_ou standing, Boris? Sit down. Would you like some tea?"
Sipiagin's mind was far from tea.
When at last he explained why they had both appeared, the governor uttered a_xclamation of pain and struck himself on the forehead, while his face assume_ sympathetic expression.
"Dear me! what a misfortune! And he's here now—today… . You know we never kee_hat sort with us for more than one night at the outside, but the chief o_olice is out of town, so your brother-in-law has been detained. He is to b_ent on tomorrow. Dear me! what a dreadful thing! What your wife must hav_one through! What would you like me to do?"
"I would like to have an interview with him here, if it is not against th_aw."
"My dear boy! laws are not made for men like you. I do feel so sorry for you… . C'est affreux, tu sais!"
He gave a peculiar ring. An adjutant appeared.
My dear baron, do please make some arrangement there … " He told him what h_anted and the baron vanished. "Only think, mon cher ami, the peasants nearl_illed him. They tied his hands behind him, flung him in a cart, and brough_im here! And he's not in the least bit angry or indignant with them you know!
He was so calm altogether that I was amazed! But you will see for yourself.
C'est un fanatique tranquille."
"Ce sont les pires," Kollomietzev remarked sarcastically. The governor looke_p at him from under his eyebrows. "By the way, I must have a word with you, Simion Petrovitch."
"Yes; what about?"
"I don't like things at all—"
"You know that peasant who owed you money and came here to complain—"
"He's hanged himself."
"It's of no consequence when; but it's an ugly affair."
Kollomietzev merely shrugged his shoulders and moved away to the window with _raceful swing of the body. At this moment the adjutant brought in Markelov.
The governor had been right; he was unnaturally calm. Even his habitua_oroseness had given place to an expression of weary indifference, which di_ot change when he caught sight of his brother-in-law. Only in the glanc_hich he threw on the German adjutant, who was escorting him, there was _omentary flash of the old hatred he felt towards such people. His coat ha_een torn in several places and hurriedly stitched up with coarse thread; hi_orehead, eyebrows, and the bridge of his nose were covered with small scar_aked with clotted blood. He had not washed, but had combed his hair.
"Sergai Mihailovitch!" Sipiagin began excitedly, taking a step or two toward_im and extending his right hand, only so that he might touch him or stop hi_f he made a movement in advance, "Sergai Mihailovitch! I am not here to tel_ou of our amazement, our deep distress—you can have no doubt of that! Yo_anted to ruin yourself and have done so! But I've come to tell you … that … that … to give you the chance of hearing sound common-sense through the voic_f honour and friendship. You can still mitigate your lot and, believe me, _ill do all in my power to help you, as the honoured head of this province ca_ear witness!" At this point Sipiagin raised his voice. "A real penitence o_our wrongs and a full confession without reserve which will be duly presente_n the proper quarters—"
"Your excellency," Markelov exclaimed suddenly, turning towards th_overnor—the very sound of his voice was calm, though it was a little hoarse;
"I thought that you wanted to see me in order to cross-examine me again, bu_f I have been brought here solely by Mr. Sipiagin's wish, then please orde_e to be taken back again. We cannot understand one another. All he says is s_uch Greek to me."
"Greek, eh!" Kollomietzev shrieked. "And to set peasants rioting, is tha_reek too? Is that Greek too, eh?
"What have you here, your excellency? A landowner of the secret police? An_ow zealous he is!" Markelov remarked, a faint smile of pleasure playing abou_is pale lips.
Kollomietzev stamped and raged, but the governor stopped him.
"It serves you right, Simion Petrovitch. You shouldn't interfere in what i_ot your business."
"Not my business … not my business … It seems to me that it's the business o_very nobleman—"
Markelov scanned Kollomietzev coldly and slowly, as if for the last time an_hen turned to Sipiagin.
"If you really want to know my views, my dear brother-in-law, here they are. _dmit that the peasants had a right to arrest me and give me up if the_isapproved of what I preached to them. They were free to do what they wanted.
I came to them, not they to me. As for the government— if it does send me t_iberia, I'll go without grumbling, although I don't consider myself guilty.
The government does its work, defends itself. Are you satisfied?"
Sipiagin wrung his hands in despair.
"Satisfied!! What a word! That's not the point, and it is not for us to judg_he doings of the government. The question, my dear Sergai, is whether yo_eel" (Sipiagin had decided to touch the tender strings) "the utte_nreasonableness, senselessness, of your undertaking and are prepared t_epent; and whether I can answer for you at all, my dear Sergai."
"I have said all I have to say and don't want to repeat it."
"But don't you repent? Don't you repent?"
"Oh, leave me alone with your repentence! You want to steal into my very soul?
Leave that, at any rate, to me."
Sipiagin shrugged his shoulders.
"You were always like that; never would listen to common-sense. You have _plendid chance of getting out of this quietly, honourably…
"Quietly, honourably," Markelov repeated savagely. "We know those words. The_re always flung at a man when he's wanted to do something mean! That is wha_hese fine phrases are for!"
"We sympathise with you," Sipiagin continued reproachfully, "and you hate us."
"Fine sympathy! To Siberia and hard labour with us; that is your sympathy. Oh, let me alone! let me alone! for Heaven's sake!"
Markelov lowered his head.
He was agitated at heart, though externally calm. He was most of all torture_y the fact that he had been betrayed—and by whom? By Eremy of Goloplok! Tha_ame Eremy whom he had trusted so much! That Mendely the sulky had no_ollowed him, had really not surprised him. Mendely was drunk and wa_onsequently afraid. But Eremy! For Markelov, Eremy stood in some way as th_ersonification of the whole Russian people, and Eremy had deceived him! Ha_e been mistaken about the thing he was striving for? Was Kisliakov a liar?
And were Vassily Nikolaevitch's orders all stupid? And all the articles, books, works of socialists and thinkers, every letter of which had seemed t_im invincible truth, were they all nonsense too? Was it really so? And th_eautiful simile of the abcess awaiting the prick of the lancet—was that, too, nothing more than a phrase? "No! no! " he whispered to himself, and the colou_pread faintly over his bronze-coloured face; "no! All these things are true, true … only I am to blame. I did not know how to do things, did not put thing_n the right way! I ought simply to have given orders, and if anyone had trie_o hinder, or object—put a bullet through his head! there is nothing else t_e done! He who is against us has no right to live. Don't they kill spies lik_ogs, worse than dogs?"
All the details of his capture rose up in Markelov's mind. First the silence, the leers, then the shrieks from the back of the crowd … someone coming u_ideways as if bowing to him, then that sudden rush, when he was knocked down.
His own cries of "What are you doing, my boys?" and their shouts, "A belt! _elt! tie him up! " Then the rattling of his bones … unspeakable rage … filt_n his mouth, his nostrils … "Shove him in the cart! shove him in the cart!"
someone roared with laughter. .
"I didn't go about it in the right way … " That was the thing that mos_ormented him. That he had fallen under the wheel was his personal misfortun_nd had nothing to do with the cause—it was possible to bear that … but Eremy!
While Markelov was standing with his head sunk on his breast, Sipiagin dre_he governor aside and began talking to him in undertones. He flourished tw_ingers across his forehead, as though he would suggest that the unfortunat_an was not quite right in his head, in order to arouse if not sympathy, a_ny rate indulgence towards the madman. The governor shrugged his shoulders, opened and shut his eyes, regretted his inability to do anything, but mad_ome sort of promise in the end. "Tous les egards … certainement, tous le_gards," the soft, pleasant words flowed through his scented moustache. "Bu_ou know the law, my boy!"
"Of course I do!" Sipiagin responded with a sort of submissive severity.
While they were talking in the corner, Kollomietzev could scarcely stand stil_n one spot. He walked up and down, hummed and hawed, showed every sign o_mpatience. At last he went up to Sipiagin, saying hastily, " Vous oublie_'autre!"
"Oh, yes!" Sipiagin exclaimed loudly. "Merci de me l'avoir rappele. You_xcellency," he said, turning to the governor (he purposely addressed hi_riend Voldemar in this formal way, so as not to compromise the prestige o_uthority in Markelov's presence), "I must draw your attention to the fac_hat my brother-in-law's mad attempt has certain ramifications, and one o_hese branches, that is to say, one of the suspected persons, is to be foun_ot very far from here, in this town. I've brought another with me," he adde_n a whisper, "he's in the drawing- room. Have him brought in here."
"What a man!" the governor thought with admiration, gazing respectfully a_ipiagin. He gave the order and a minute later Sila Paklin stood before him.
Paklin bowed very low to the governor as he came in, but catching sight o_arkelov before he had time to raise himself, remained as he was, half ben_own, fidgetting with his cap. Markelov looked at him vacantly, but coul_ardly have recognised him, as he withdrew into his own thoughts.
"Is this the branch?" the governor asked, pointing to Paklin with a long whit_inger adorned with a turquoise ring.
"Oh, no!" Sipiagin exclaimed with a slight smile. "However, who knows!" h_dded after a moment's thought. "Your excellency," he said aloud, "th_entleman before you is Mr. Paklin. He comes from St. Petersburg and is _lose friend of a certain person who for a time held the position of tutor i_y house and who ran away, taking with him a certain young girl who, I blus_o say, is my niece.
"Ah! oui, oui," the governor mumbled, shaking his head, "I heard the story … The princess told me—"
Sipiagin raised his voice.
"That person is a certain Mr. Nejdanov, whom I strongly suspect of dangerou_deas and theories—"
"Un rouge a tous crins," Kollomietzev put in.
"Yes, dangerous ideas and theories," Sipiagin repeated more emphatically. "H_ust certainly know something about this propaganda. He is … in hiding, as _ave been informed by Mr. Paklin, in the merchant Falyaeva's factory—"
At these words Markelov threw another glance at Paklin and gave a slow, indifferent smile.
"Excuse me, excuse me, your excellency," Paklin cried, "and you, Mr. Sipiagin, I never … never—"
"Did you say the merchant Falyaeva?" the governor asked, turning to Sipiagi_nd merely shaking his fingers in Paklin's direction, as much as to say,"
Gently, my good man, gently." "What is coming over our respectable, bearde_erchants? Only yesterday one was arrested in connection with this affair. Yo_ay have heard of him—Golushkin, a very rich man. But he's harmless enough. H_on't make revolutions; he's grovelling on his knees already."
"The merchant Falyaeva has nothing whatever to do with it," Sipiagin began; "_now nothing of his ideas; I was only talking of his factory where Mr.
Nejdanov is to be found at this very moment, as Mr. Paklin says—"
"I said nothing of the kind!" Paklin cried; "you said it yourself!"
"Excuse me, Mr. Paklin," Sipiagin pronounced with the same relentles_recision, "I admire that feeling of friendship which prompts you to deny it."
("A regular Guizot, upon my word!" the governor thought to himself.) "But tak_xample by me. Do you suppose that the feeling of kinship is less strong in m_han your feeling of friendship? But there is another feeling, my dear sir, yet stronger still, which guides all our deeds and actions, and that is duty!"
"Le sentiment du devoir," Kollomietzev explained.
Markelov took both the speakers in at a glance.
"Your excellency!" he exclaimed, "I ask you a second time; please have m_emoved out of sight of these babblers."
But there the governor lost patience a little.
"Mr. Markelov!" he pronounced severely, "I would advise you, in your presen_osition, to be a little more careful of your tongue, and to show a littl_ore respect to your elders, especially when they give expression to suc_atriotic sentiments as those you have just heard from the lips of your beau- frere! I shall be delighted, my dear Boris," he added, turning to Sipiagin,
"to tell the minister of your noble action. But with whom is this Nejdano_taying at the factory?"
"With a certain Mr. Solomin, the chief engineer there, Mr. Paklin says."
It seemed to afford Sipiagin some peculiar pleasure in tormenting poor Sila.
He made him pay dearly for the cigar he had given him and the playfu_amiliarity of his behaviour.
"This Solomin," Kollomietzev put in, "is an out-and-out radical an_epublican. It would be a good thing if your excellency were to turn you_ttention to him too."
"Do you know these gentlemen … Solomin, and what's his name … Nejdanov?" th_overnor asked Markelov, somewhat authoritatively.
Markelov distended his nostrils malignantly.
"Do you know Confucius and Titus Livius, your excellency?"
The governor turned away.
"Il n'y a pas moyen de causer avec cette homme," he said, shrugging hi_houlders. "Baron, come here, please."
The adjutant went up to him quickly and Paklin seized the opportunity o_imping over to Sipiagin.
"What are you doing?" he asked in a whisper. "Why do you want to ruin you_iece? Why, she's with him, with Nejdanov!"
"I am not ruining any one, my dear sir," Sipiagin said loudly, "I am onl_oing what my conscience bids me do, and—"
"And what your wife, my sister, bids you do; you dare not stand up agains_er!" Markelov exclaimed just as loudly.
Sipiagin took no notice of the remark; it was too much beneath him!
"Listen," Paklin continued, trembling all over with agitation, or may be fro_imidity; there was a malignant light in his eyes and the tears were nearl_hoking him—tears of pity for them and rage at himself; "listen, I told yo_he was married—it wasn't true, I lied! but they must get married—and if yo_revent it, if the police get there—there will be a stain on your conscienc_hich you'll never be able to wipe out—and you—"
"If what you have just told me be true," Sipiagin interrupted him still mor_oudly, "then it can only hasten the measures which I think necessary to tak_n this matter; and as for the purity of my conscience, I beg you not t_rouble about that, my dear sir.
"It's been polished," Markelov put in again; "there is a coat of St.
Petersburg varnish upon it; no amount of washing will make it come clean. Yo_ay whisper as much as you like, Mr. Paklin, but you won't get anything out o_t!
At this point the governor considered it necessary to interfere.
"I think that you have said enough, gentlemen," he began, "and I'll ask you, my dear baron, to take Mr. Markelov away. N'est ce pas, Boris, you don't wan_im any further—"
Sipiagin made a gesture with his hands.
"I said everything I could think of!"
"Very well, baron!"
The adjutant came up to Markelov, clinked his spurs, made a horizonta_ovement of the hand, as if to request Markelov to make a move; the latte_urned and walked out. Paklin, only in imagination it is true, but with bitte_ympathy and pity, shook him by the hand.
"We'll send some of our men to the factory," the governor continued; "but yo_now, Boris, I thought this gentleman" (he moved his chin in Paklin'_irection)" told you something about your niece … I understood that she wa_here at the factory. Then how…
"It's impossible to arrest her in any case," Sipiagin remarked thoughtfully;
"perhaps she will think better of it and return. I'll write her a note, if _ay."
"Do please. You may be quite sure … nous offrerons le quidam … mais nou_ommes galants avec les dames et avec celle-la donc!"
"But you've made no arrangements about this Solomin," Kollomietzev exclaime_laintively. He had been on the alert all the while, trying to catch what th_overnor and Sipiagin were saying. "I assure you he's the principa_ingleader! I have a wonderful instinct about these things!"
"Pas trop de zele, my dear Simion Petrovitch," the governor remarked with _mile. "You remember Talleyrand! If it is really as you say the fellow won'_scape us. You had better think of your—" the governor put his hand to hi_hroat significantly. "By the way," he said, turning to Sipiagin, "et c_aillard-la" (he moved his chin in Paklin's direction). "Qu'enferons nous? H_oes not appear very dangerous."
"Let him go," Sipiagin said in an undertone, and added in German, "Lass' de_umpen laufen!"
He imagined for some reason that he was quoting from Goethe's Gotz vo_erlichingen.
"You can go, sir!" the governor said aloud. "We do not require you any longer.
Paklin bowed to the company in general and went out into the street completel_rushed and humiliated. Heavens! this contempt had utterly broken him.
"Good God! What am I? A coward, a traitor?" he thought, in unutterabl_espair. "Oh, no, no! I am an honest man, gentlemen! I have still some manhoo_eft!"
But who was this familiar figure sitting on the governor's step and looking a_im with a dejected, reproachful glance? It was Markelov's old servant. He ha_vidently come to town for his master, and would not for a moment leave th_oor of his prison. But why did he look so reproachfully at Paklin? He had no_etrayed Markelov!
"And why did I go poking my nose into things that did not concern me? Wh_ould I not sit quietly at home? And now it will be said and written tha_aklin betrayed them— betrayed his friends to the enemy!" He recalled the loo_arkelov had given him and his last words, "Whisper as much as you like, Mr.
Paklin, but you won't get anything out of it!" and then these sad, aged, dejected eyes! he thought in desperation. And as it says in the scriptures, he
"wept bitterly" as he turned his steps towards the oasis, to Fomishka an_imishka and Snandulia.