by Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy
Translated by Louise and Aylmer Maude
But I say unto you, that every one that looketh on a woman to
lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his
And if thy right eye causeth thee to stumble, pluck it out,
and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of
thy members should perish, and not thy whole body be cast into
And if thy right hand causeth thee to stumble, cut it off, and
cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy
members should perish, and not thy whole body go into hell.
Matthew v. 28, 29, 30
A brilliant career lay before Eugene Iretnev. He had everything
necessary to attain it: an admirable education at home, high honours
when he graduated in law at Petersburg University, and connexions in
the highest society through his recently deceased father; he had also
already begun service in one of the Ministries under the protection of
the minister. Moreover he had a fortune; even a large one, though
insecure. His father had lived abroad and in petersburg, allowing his
sons, Eugene and Andrew (who was older than Eugene and in the Horse
Guards), six thousand rubles a year each, while he himself and his wife
spent a great deal. He only used to visit his estate for a couple of
months in summer and did not concern himself with its direction,
entrusting it all to an unscrupulous manager who also failed to attend
to it, but in whom he had complete confidence.
After the father's death, when the brothers began to divide the
property, so many debts were discovered that their lawyer even advised
them to refuse the inheritance and retain only an estate left them by
their grandmother, which was valued at a hundred thousand rubles. But
a neighbouring landed-proprietor who had done business with old
Irtenev, that is to say, who had promissory notes from him and had come
to Petersburg on that account, said that in spite of the debts they
could straighten out affairs so as to retain a large fortune (it would
only be necessary to sell the forest and some outlying land, retaining
the rich Semenov estate with four thousand desyatins of black earth,
the sugar factory, and two hundred desyatins of water-meadows) if one
devoted oneself to the management of the estate, settled there, and
farmed it wisely and economically.
And so, having visited the estate in spring (his father had died in
Lent), Eugene looked into everything, resolved to retire from the Civil
Service, settle in the country with his mother, and undertake the
management with the object of preserving the main estate. He arranged
with his brother, with whom he was very friendly, that he would pay him
either four thousand rubles a year, or a lump sum of eighty thousand,
for which Andrew would hand over to him his share of his inheritance.
So he arranged matters and, having settled down with his mother in
the big house, began managing the estate eagerly, yet cautiously.
It is generally supposed the Conservatives are usually old people,
and that those in favour of change are the young. That is not quite
correct. Usually Conservatives are young people: those who want to
live but who do not think about how to live, and have not time to
think, and therefore take as a model for themselves a way of life that
they have seen.
Thus it was with Eugene. Having settled in the village, his aim
and ideal was to restore the form of life that had existed, not in his
father's time -- his father had been a bad manager -- but in his
grandfather's. And now he tried to resurrect the general spirit of his
grandfather's life -- in the house, the garden, and in the estate
management -- of course with changes suited to the times -- everything
on a large scale -- good order, method, and everybody satisfied. But
to do this entailed much work. It was necessary to meet the demands of
the creditors and the banks, and for that purpose to sell some land and
arrange renewals of credit. It was also necessary to get money to
carry on (partly by farming out land, and partly by hiring labour) the
immense operations on the Semenov estate, with its four hundred
desyatins of ploughland and its sugar factory, and to deal with the
garden so that it should not seem to be neglected or in decay.
There was much work to do, but Eugene had plenty of strength - -
physical and mental. He was twenty-six, of medium height, strongly
built, with muscles developed by gymnastics. He was full- blooded and
his whole neck was very red, his teeth and lips were bright, and his
hair soft and curly though not thick. His only physical defect was
short-sightedness, which he had himself developed by using spectacles,
so that he could not now do without a pince-nez, which had already
formed a line on the bridge of his nose.
Such was his physically. For his spiritual portrait it might be
said that the better people knew him the better they liked him. His
mother had always loved him more than anyone else, and now after her
husband's death she concentrated on him not only her whole affection
but her whole life. Nor was it only his mother who so loved him. All
his comrades at the high school and the university not merely liked him
very much, but respected him. He had this effect on all who met him.
It was impossible not to believe what he said, impossible to suspect
any deception or falseness in one who had such an open, honest face and
in particular such eyes.
In general his personality helped him much in his affairs. A
creditor who would have refused another trusted him. The clerk, the
village Elder, or a peasant, who would have played a dirty trick and
cheated someone else, forgot to deceive under the pleasant impression
of intercourse with this kindly, agreeable, and above all candid man.
It was the end of May. Eugene had somehow managed in town to get
the vacant land freed from the mortgage, so as to sell it to a
merchant, and had borrowed money from that same merchant to replenish
his stock, that is to say, to procure horses, bulls, and carts, and in
particular to begin to build a necessary farm-house. the matter had
been arranged. The timber was being carted, the carpenters were
already at work, and manure for the estate was being brought on eighty
carts, but everything still hung by a thread.
Amid these cares something came about which though unimportant
tormented Eugene at the time. As a young man he had lived as all
healthy young men live, that is, he had had relations with women of
various kinds. He was not a libertine but neither, as he himself said,
was he a monk. He only turned to this, however, in so far as was
necessary for physical health and to have his mind free, as he used to
say. This had begun when he was sixteen and had gone on satisfactorily
-- in the sense that he had never given himself up to debauchery, never
once been infatuated, and had never contracted a disease. At first he
had a seamstress in Petersburg, then she got spoilt and he made other
arrangements, and that side of his affairs was so well secured that it
did not trouble him.
But now he was living in the country for the second month and did
not at all know what he was to do. Compulsory self-restraint was
beginning to have a bad effect on him.
Must he really go to town for that purpose? And where to? How?
That was the only thing that disturbed him; but as he was convinced
that the thing was necessary and that he needed it, it really became a
necessity, and he felt that he was not free and that his eyes
involuntarily followed every young woman.
He did not approve of having relations with a married woman or a
maid in his own village. He knew by report that both his father and
grandfather had been quite different in this matter from other
landowners of that time. At home they had never had any entanglements
with peasant-women, and he had decided that he would not do so either;
but afterwards, feeling himself ever more and more under compulsion and
imagining with horror what might happen to him in the neighbouring
country town, and reflecting on the fact that the days of serfdom were
now over, he decided that it might be done on the spot. Only it must
be done so that no one should know of it, and not for the sake of
debauchery but merely for health's sake -- as he said to himself. and
when he had decided this he became still more restless. When talking
to the village Elder, the peasants, or the carpenters, he involuntarily
brought the conversation round to women, and when it turned to women he
kept it on that theme. He noticed the women more and more.
to settle the matter in his own mind was one thing but to carry it
out was another. To approach a woman himself was impossible. which
one? Where? It must be done through someone else, but to whom should
he speak about it?
He happened to go into a watchman's hut in the forest to get a
drink of water. The watchman had been his father's huntsman, and
Eugene Ivanich chatted with him, and the man began telling some strange
tales of hunting sprees. It occurred to Eugene Ivanich that it would
be convenient to arrange matters in this hut, or in the wood, only he
did not know how to manage it and whether old Daniel would undertake
the arrangement. "Perhaps he will be horrified at such a proposal and
I shall have disgraced myself, but perhaps he will agree to it quite
simply." So he thought while listening to Daniel's stories. Daniel
was telling how once when they had been stopping at the hut of the
sexton's wife in an outlying field, he had brought a woman for Fedor
"It will be all right," thought Eugene.
"Your father, amy the kingdom of heaven be his, did not go in for
nonsense of that kind."
"It won't do," thought Eugene. But to test the matter he said:
"How was it you engaged on such bad things?"
"But what was there bad in it? She was glad, and Fedor Zakharich
was satisfied, very satisfied. I got a ruble. Why, what was he to do?
He too is a lively limb apparently, and drinks wine."
"Yes, I may speak," thought Eugene, and at once proceeded to do so.
"And do you know, Daniel, I don't know how to endure it," -- he
felt himself going scarlet.
"I am not a monk -- I have been accustomed to it."
He felt that what he was saying was stupid, but was glad to see
that Daniel approved.
"Why of course, you should have told me long ago. It can all be
arranged," said he: "only tell me which one you want."
"Oh, it is really all the same to me. Of course not an ugly one,
and she must be healthy."
"I understand!" said Daniel briefly. He reflected.
"Ah! There is a tasty morsel," he began. Again Eugene went red.
"A tasty morsel. See here, she was married last autumn." Daniel
whispered -- "and he hasn't been able to do anything. Think what that
is worth to one who wants it!"
Eugene even frowned with shame.
"No, no," he said. "I don't want that at all. I want, on the
contrary (what could the contrary be?), on the contrary I only want
that she should be healthy and that there should be as little fuss as
possible -- a woman whose husband is away in the army or something of
"I know. It's Stepanida I must bring you. Her husband is away in
town, just the same as a soldier. and she is a fine woman, and clean.
You will be satisfied. As it is I was saying to her the other day --
you should go, but she..."
"Well then, when is it to be?"
"Tomorrow if you like. I shall be going to get some tobacco and I
will call in, and at the dinner-hour come here, or to the bath-house
behind the kitchen garden. There will be nobody about. Besides after
dinner everybody takes a nap."
"All right then."
A terrible excitement seized Eugene as he rode home. "what will
happen? What is a peasant woman like? Suppose it turns out that she
is hideous, horrible? No, she is handsome," he told himself,
remembering some he had been noticing. "But what shall I say? What
shall I do?"
He was not himself all that day. Next day at noon he went to the
forester's hut. Daniel stood at the door and silently and
significantly nodded towards the wood. The blood rushed to Eugene's
heart, he was conscious of it and went to the kitchen garden. No one
was there. He went to the baht-house -- there was no one about, he
looked in, came out, and suddenly heard the crackling of a breaking
twig. He looked round -- and she was standing in the thicket beyond
the little ravine. He rushed there across the ravine. There were
nettles in it which he had not noticed. they stung him and, losing the
pince-nez from his nose, he ran up the slope on the farther side. She
stood there, in a white embroidered apron, a red-brown skirt, and a
bright red kerchief, barefoot, fresh, firm, and handsome, and smiling
"There is a path leading round -- you should have gone round," she
said. "I came long ago, ever so long."
He went up to her and, looking her over, touched her.
A quarter of an hour later they separated; he found his pince- nez,
called in to see Daniel, and in reply to his question: "Are you
satisfied, master?" gave him a ruble and went home.
He was satisfied. Only at first had he felt ashamed, then it had
passed off. And everything had gone well. The best thing was that he
now felt at ease, tranquil and vigorous. As for her, he had not even
seen her thoroughly. He remembered that she was clean, fresh, not
bad-looking, and simple, without any pretence. "Whose wife is she?"
said he to himself. "Pechnikov's, Daniel said. What Pechnikov is
that? There are two households of that name. Probably she is old
Michael's daughter-in-law. Yes, that must be it. His son does live in
Moscow. I'll ask Daniel about it some time."
From then onward that previously important drawback to country life
-- enforced self-restraint -- was eliminated. Eugene's freedom of mind
was no longer disturbed and he was able to attend freely to his
And the matter Eugene had undertaken was far from easy: before he
had time to stop up one hole a new one would unexpectedly show itself,
and it sometimes seemed to him that he would not be able to go through
with it and that it would end in his having to sell the estate after
all, which would mean that all his efforts would be wasted and that he
had failed to accomplish what he had undertaken. That prospect
disturbed him most of all.
All this time more and more debts of his father's unexpectedly came
to light. It was evident that towards the end of his life he had
borrowed right and left. At the time of the settlement in May, eugene
had thought he at least knew everything, but in the middle of the
summer he suddenly received a letter from which it appeared that there
was still a debt of twelve thousand rubles to the widow Esipova. There
was no promissory note, but only an ordinary receipt which his lawyer
told him could be disputed. But it did not enter Eugene's head to
refuse to pay a debt of his father's merely because the document could
be challenged. He only wanted to know for certain whether there had
been such a debt.
"Mamma! who is Kaleriya Vladimirovna Esipova?" he asked his mother
when they met as usual for dinner.
"Esipova? she was brought up by your grandfather. Why?"
Eugene told his mother about the letter.
"I wonder she is not ashamed to ask for it. Your father gave her
"But do we owe her this?"
"Well now, how shall I put it? It is not a debt. Papa, out of his
"Yes, but did Papa consider it a debt?"
"I cannot say. I don't know. I only know it is hard enough for
you without that."
Eugene saw that Mary Pavlovna did not know what to say, and was as
it were sounding him.
"I see from what you say that it must be paid," said he. "I will
go to see her tomorrow and have a chat, and see if it cannot be
"Ah, how sorry I am for you, but you know that will be best. Tell
her she must wait," said mary Pavlovna, evidently tranquillized and
proud of her son's decision.
Eugene's position was particularly hard because his mother, who was
living with him, did not at all realize his position. She had been
accustomed all her life long to live extravagantly that she could not
even imagine to herself the position her son was in, that is to say,
that today or tomorrow matters might shape themselves so that they
would have nothing left and he would have to sell everything and live
and support his mother on what salary he could earn, which at the very
most would be tow thousand rubles. She did not understand that they
could only save themselves from that position by cutting down expense
in everything, and so she could not understand why Eugene was so
careful about trifles, in expenditure on gardeners, coachmen, servants
-- even on food. Also, like most widows, she nourished feelings of
devotion to the memory of her departed spouse quite different from
those she had felt for him while he lived, and she did not admit the
thought that anything the departed had done or arranged could be wrong
or could be altered.
Eugene by great efforts managed to keep up the garden and the
conservatory with two gardeners, and the stables with two coachmen.
And Mary Pavlovna naively thought that she was sacrificing herself for
her son and doing all a mother could do, by not complaining of the food
which the old man-cook prepared, of the fact that the paths in the park
were not all swept clean, and that instead of footmen they had only a
So, too, concerning this new debt, in which Eugene saw an almost
crushing blow to all his undertakings, Mary Pavlovna only saw an
incident displaying Eugene's noble nature. Moreover she did not feel
much anxiety about Eugene's position, because she was confident that he
would make a brilliant marriage which would put everything right. And
he could make a very brilliant marriage: she knew a dozen families who
would be glad to give their daughters to him. And she wished to
arrange the matter as soon as possible.
Eugene himself dreamt of marriage, but no in the same way as his
mother. the idea of using marriage as a means of putting his affairs
in order was repulsive to him. He wished to marry honourably, for
love. He observed the girls whom he met and those he knew, and
compared himself with them, but no decision had yet been taken.
meanwhile, contrary to his expectations, his relations with Stepanida
continued, and even acquired the character of a settled affair. Eugene
was so far from debauchery, it was so hard for him secretly to do this
thing which he felt to be bad, that he could not arrange these meetings
himself and even after the first one hoped not to see Stepanida again;
but it turned out that after some time the same restlessness (due he
believed to that cause) again overcame him. And his restlessness this
time was no longer impersonal, but suggested just those same bright,
black eyes, and that deep voice, saying, "ever so long," that same
scent of something fresh and strong, and that same full breast lifting
the bib of her apron, and all this in that hazel and maple thicket,
bathed in bright sunlight.
Though he felt ashamed he again approached Daniel. And again a
rendezvous was fixed for midday in the wood. This time Eugene looked
her over more carefully and everything about her seemed attractive. He
tried talking to her and asked about her husband. He really was
michael's son and lived as a coachman in Moscow.
"Well, then, how is it you..." Eugene wanted to ask how it was she
was untrue to him.
"What about `how is it'?" asked she. Evidently she was clever and
"Well, how is it you come to me?"
"There now," said she merrily. "I bet he goes on the spree there.
Why shouldn't I?"
Evidently she was putting on an air of sauciness and assurance, and
this seemed charming to Eugene. but all the same he did not himself
fix a rendezvous with her. Even when she proposed that they should
meet without the aid of Daniel, to whom she seemed not very well
disposed, he did not consent. He hoped that this meeting would be the
last. He like her. He thought such intercourse was necessary for him
and that there was nothing bad about it, but in the depth of his soul
there was a stricter judge who did not approve of it and hoped that
this would be the last time, or if he did not hope that, at any rate
did not wish to participate in arrangements to repeat it another time.
So the whole summer passed, during which they met a dozen times and
always by Daniel's help. It happened once that she could not be there
because her husband had come home, and Daniel proposed another woman,
but Eugene refused with disgust. then the husband went away and the
meetings continued as before, at first through Daniel, but afterwards
he simply fixed the time and she came with another woman, Prokhovova --
as it would not do for a peasant-woman to go about alone.
Once at the very time fixed for the rendezvous a family came to
call on Mary Pavlovna, with the very girl she wished Eugene to marry,
and it was impossible for Eugene to get away. as soon as he could do
so, he went out as though to the thrashing floor, and round by the path
to their meeting place in the wood. She was not there, but at the
accustomed spot everything within reach had been broken -- the black
alder, the hazel-twigs, and even a young maple the thickness of a
stake. She had waited, had become excited and angry, and had
skittishly left him a remembrance. He waited and waited, and then went
to Daniel to ask him to call her for tomorrow. She came and was just
So the summer passed. The meetings ere always arranged in the
wood, and only once, when it grew towards autumn, in the shed that
stood in her backyard.
It did not enter Eugene's head that these relations of his had any
importance for him. About her he did not even think. He gave her
money and nothing more. At first he did not know and did not think
that the affair was known and that she was envied throughout the
village, or that her relations took money from her and encouraged her,
and that her conception of any sin in the matter had been quite
obliterated by the influence of the money and her family's approval.
It seemed to her that if people envied her, then what she was doing
"It is simply necessary for my health," thought Eugene. "I grant
it is not right, and though no one says anything, everybody, or many
people, know of it. The woman who comes with her knows. And once she
knows she is sure to have told others. But what's to be done? I am
acting badly," thought Eugene, "but what's one to do? Anyhow it is not
What chiefly disturbed Eugene was the thought of the husband. At
first for some reason it seemed to him that the husband must be a poor
sort, and this as it were partly justified his conduct. But he saw the
husband and was struck by his appearance: he was a fine fellow and
smartly dressed, in no way a worse man than himself, but surely better.
At their next meeting he told her he had seen her husband and had been
surprised to see that he was such a fine fellow.
"There's not another man like him in the village," said she
This surprised Eugene, and the thought of the husband tormented him
still more after that. He happened to be at Daniel's one day and
Daniel, having begun chatting said to him quite openly:
"And Michael asked me the other day: `Is it true that the master
is living with my wife?' I said I did not know. `Anyway," I said,
"better with the master than with a peasant.'"
"Well, and what did he say?"
"He said: `Wait a bit. I'll get to know and I'll give it her all
"Yes, if the husband returned to live here I would give her up,"
But the husband lived in town and for the present their intercourse
"When necessary I will break it off, and there will be nothing left
of it," thought he.
And this seemed to him certain, especially as during the whole
summer many different things occupied him very fully: the erection of
the new farm-house, and the harvest and building, and above all meeting
the debts and selling the wasteland. All these were affairs that
completely absorbed him and on which he spent his thoughts when he lay
down and when he got up. All that was real life. His intercourse -- he
did not even call it connection -- with Stepanida he paid no attention
to. It is true that when the wish to see her arose it came with such
strength that he could think of nothing else. But this did not last
long. A meeting was arranged, and he again forgot her for a week or
even for a month.
In autumn Eugene often rode to town, and there became friendly with
the Annenskis. They had a daughter who had just finished the
Institute. And then, to Mary Pavlovna's great grief, it happened that
Eugene "cheapened himself," as she expressed it, by falling in love
with Liza Annenskaya and proposing to her.
From that time his relations with Stepanida ceased.
It is impossible to explain why Eugene chose Liza Annenskaya, as it
is always impossible to explain why a man chooses this and not that
woman. There were many reasons -- positive and negative. One reason
was that she was not a very rich heiress such as his mother sought for
him, another that she was naive and to be pitied in her relations with
her mother, another that she was not a beauty who attracted general
attention to herself, and yet she was not bad-looking. But the chief
reason was that his acquaintance with her began at the time when he was
ripe for marriage. He fell in love because he knew that he would
Liza Annenskaya was a t first merely pleasing to Eugene, but when
he decided to make her his wife his feelings for her became much
stronger. He felt that he was in love.
Liza was tall, slender, and long. Everything about her was long;
her face, and her nose (not prominently but downwards), and her
fingers, and her feet. The colour of her face was very delicate,
creamy white and delicately pink; she had long, soft, and curly,
light-brown hair, and beautiful eyes, clear, mild, and confiding.
Those eyes especially struck Eugene, and when he thought of Liza he
always saw those clear, mild, confiding eyes.
Such was she physically; he knew nothing of her spiritually, but
only saw those eyes. And those eyes seemed to tell him all he needed
to know. the meaning of their expression was this:
While still in the Institute, when she was fifteen, Liza used
continually to fall in love with all the attractive men she met and was
animated and happy only when she was in love. After leaving the
Institute she continued to fall in love in just the same way with all
the young men she met, and of course fell in love with eugene as soon
as she made his acquaintance. It was this being in love which gave her
eyes that particular expression which so captivated Eugene. already
that winter she had been in love with tow young men at one and the same
time, and blushed and became excited not only when they entered the
room but whenever their names were mentioned. But afterwards, when her
mother hinted to her that Irtenev seemed to have serious intentions,
her love for him increased so that she became almost indifferent to the
two previous attractions, and when Irtenev began to come to their balls
and parties and danced with her more than with others and evidently
only wished to know whether she loved him, her love for him became
painful. She dreamed of him in her sleep and seemed to see him when
she was awake in a dark room, and everyone else vanished from her mind.
But when he proposed and they were formally engaged, and when they had
kissed one another and were a betrothed couple, then she had no
thoughts but of him, no desire but to be with him, to love him, and to
be loved by him. She was also proud of him and felt emotional about
him and herself and her love, and quite melted and felt fain from love
The more he got to know her the more he loved her. He had not at
all expected to find such love, and it strengthened his own feeling
Towards spring he went to his estate at Semenovskoe to have a look
at it and to give directions about the management, and especially about
the house which was being done up for his wedding.
Mary Pavlovna was dissatisfied with her son's choice, not only
because the match was not as brilliant as it might have been, but also
because she did not like Varvara Alexeevna, his future mother- in-law.
Whether she was good-natured or not she did not know and could not
decide, but that she was not well-bred, not *comme il faut* -- "not a
lady" as Mary Pavlovna said to herself -- she saw from their first
acquaintance, and this distressed her; distressed her because she was
accustomed to value breeding and knew that Eugene was sensitive to it,
and she foresaw that he would suffer much annoyance on this account.
But she liked the girl. Liked her chiefly because Eugene did. One
could not help loving her, and Mary Pavlovna was quite sincerely ready
to do so.
Eugene found his mother contented and in good spirits. She was
getting everything straight in the house and preparing to go away
herself as soon as he brought his young wife. Eugene persuaded her to
stay for the time being, and the future remained undecided.
In the evening after tea Mary Pavlovna played patience as usual.
Eugene sat by, helping her. This was the hour of their most intimate
talks. Having finished one game and while preparing to begin another,
she looked up at him and, with a little hesitation, began thus:
"I wanted to tell you, Jenya -- of course I do not know, but in
general I wanted to suggest to you -- that before your wedding it is
absolutely necessary to have finished with all your bachelor affairs so
that nothing may disturb either you or your wife. God forbid that it
should. You understand me?"
And indeed Eugene at once understood that Mary Pavlovna was hinting
at his relations with Stepanida which had ended in the previous autumn,
and that she attributed much more importance to those relations than
they deserved, as solitary women always do. Eugene blushed, not from
shame so much as from vexation that good- natured Mary Pavlovna was
bothering -- out of affection no doubt, but still was bothering --
about matters that were not her business and that she did not and could
not understand. He answered that there was nothing that needed
concealment, and that he had always conducted himself so that there
should be nothing to hinder his marrying.
"Well, dear, that is excellent. Only, Jenya...don't be vexed with
me," said Mary Pavlovna, and broke off in confusion.
Eugene saw that she had not finished and had not said what she
wanted to. And this was confirmed, when a little later she began to
tell him how, in his absence, she had been asked to stand godmother at
... the Pechnikovs.
Eugene flushed again, not with vexation or shame this time, but
with some strange consciousness of the importance of what was about to
be told him -- an involuntary consciousness quite at variance with his
conclusions. And what he expected happened. Mary Pavlovna, as if
merely by way of conversation, mentioned that this year only boys were
being born -- evidently a sign of a coming war. Both at the Vasins and
the pechnikovs the young wife had a first child -- at each house a boy.
Mary Pavlovna wanted to say this casually, but she herself felt
ashamed when she saw the colour mount to her son's face and saw him
nervously removing, tapping, and replacing his pince-nez and hurriedly
lighting a cigarette. She became silent. He too was silent and could
not think how to break that silence. So they both understood that they
had understood one another.
"Yes, the chief thing is that there should be justice and no
favouritism in the village -- as under your grandfather."
"Mamma," said Eugene suddenly, "I know why you are saying this.
You have no need to be disturbed. My future family life is so sacred
to me that I should not infringe it in any case. and as to what
occurred in my bachelor days, that is quite ended. I never formed any
union and on one has any claims on me."
"Well, I am glad," said his mother. "I know how noble your
Eugene accepted his mother's words as a tribute due to him, and did
Next day he drove to town thinking of his fiancee and of anything
in the world except of Stepanida. but, as if purposely to remind him,
on approaching the church he met people walking and driving back from
it. He met old Matvey with Simon, some lads and girls, and then two
women, one elderly, the other, who seemed familiar, smartly dressed and
wearing a bright-red kerchief. This woman was walking lightly and
boldly, carrying a child in her arms. He came up to them, and the
elder woman bowed, stopping in the old- fashioned way, but the young
woman with the child only bent her head, and from under the kerchief
gleamed familiar, merry, smiling eyes.
Yes, this was she, but all that was over and it was no use looking
at her: "and the child may be mine," flashed through his mind. No,
what nonsense! There was her husband, she used to see him. He did not
even consider the matter further, so settled in his mind was it that it
had been necessary for his health -- he had paid her money and there
was no more to be said; there was, there had been, and there could be,
no question of any union between them. It was not that he stifled the
voice of conscience, no -- his conscience simply said nothing to him.
And he thought no more about her after the conversation with his
mother and this meeting. Nor did he meet her again.
Eugene was married in town the week after Easter, and left at once
with his young wife for his country estate. The house had been
arranged as usual for a young couple. Mary Pavlovna wished to leave,
but Eugene begged her to remain, and Liza still more strongly, and she
only moved into a detached wing of the house.
And so a new life began for Eugene.
The first year of his marriage was a hard one for Eugene. It was
hard because affairs he had managed to put off during the time of his
courtship now, after his marriage, all came upon him at once.
To escape from debts was impossible. An outlying part of the
estate was sold and the most pressing obligations met, but others
remained, and he had no money. The estate yielded a good revenue, but
he had had to send payments to his brother and to spend on his own
marriage, so that there was no ready money and the factory could not
carry on and would have to be closed down. The only way of escape was
to use his wife's money; and Liza, having realized her husband's
position, insisted on this herself. Eugene agreed, but only on
condition that he should give her a mortgage on half his estate, which
he did. Of course this was done not for his wife's sake, who felt
offended at it, but to appease his mother-in- law.
These affairs with various fluctuations of success and failure
helped to poison Eugene's life that first year. Another thing was his
wife's ill-health. That same first year, seven months after their
marriage, a misfortune befell Liza. She was driving out to meet her
husband on his return from town, and the quiet horse became rather
playful and she was frightened and jumped out. Her jump was
comparatively fortunate -- she might have been caught by the wheel --
but she was pregnant, and that same night the pains began and she had a
miscarriage from which she was long in recovering. The loss of the
expected child and his wife's illness, together with the disorder in
his affairs, and above all the presence of his mother-in-law, who
arrived as soon as Liza fell ill -- all this together made the year
still harder for Eugene.
But notwithstanding these difficult circumstances, towards the end
of the first year Eugene felt very well. First of all his cherished
hope of restoring his fallen fortune and renewing his grandfather's way
of life in a new form, was approaching accomplishment, though slowly
and with difficulty. There was no longer any question of having to
sell the whole estate to meet the debts. The chief estate, thought
transferred to his wife's name, was saved, and if only the beet crop
succeeded and the price kept up, by next year his position of want and
stress might be replaced by one of complete prosperity. That was one
Another was that however much he had expected from his wife, he had
never expected to find in her what he actually found. He found not
what he had expected, but something much better. Raptures of love --
though he tried to produce them -- did not take place or were very
slight, but he discovered something quite different, namely that he was
not merely more cheerful and happier but that it had become easier to
live. He did not know why this should be so, but it was.
and it was so because immediately after marriage his wife decided
that Eugene irtenev was superior to anyone else in the world: wiser,
purer, and nobler than they, and that therefore it was right for
everyone to serve him and please him; but that as it was impossible to
make everyone do this, she must do it herself to the limit of her
strength. And she did; directing all her strength of mind towards
learning and guessing what he liked, and then doing just that thing,
whatever it was and however difficult it might be.
She had the gift which furnishes the chief delight of intercourse
with a loving woman: thanks to her love of her husband she penetrated
into his soul. She knew his every state and his every shade of feeling
-- better it seemed to him than he himself - - and she behaved
correspondingly and therefore never hurt his feelings, but always
lessened his distresses and strengthened his joys. And she understood
not only his feelings but also his joys. Things quite foreign to her
-- concerning the farming, the factory, or the appraisement of others
-- she immediately understood so that she could not merely converse
with him, but could often, as he himself said, be a useful and
irreplaceable counsellor. She regarded affairs and people and
everything in the world only though his eyes. She loved her mother,
but having seen that Eugene disliked his mother-in-law's interference
in their life she immediately took her husband's side, and did so with
such decision that he had to restrain her.
Besides all this she had very good taste, much tact, and above all
she had repose. All that she did, she did unnoticed; only the results
of what she did were observable, namely, that always and in everything
there was cleanliness, order, and elegance. Liza had at once
understood in what her husband's ideal of life consisted, and she tried
to attain, and in the arrangement and order of the house did attain,
what he wanted. Children it is true were lacking, but there was hope
of that also. In winter she went to Petersburg to see a specialist and
he assured them that she was quite well and could have children.
And this desire was accomplished. By the end of the year she was
The one thing that threatened, not to say poisoned, their happiness
was her jealousy -- a jealousy she restrained and did not exhibit, but
from which she often suffered. Not only might Eugene not love any
other woman -- because there was not a woman on earth worthy of him (as
to whether she herself was worthy or not she never asked herself), --
but not a single woman might therefore dare to love him.
this was how they lived: he rose early, as he always had done, and
went to see to the farm or the factory where work was going on, or
sometimes to the fields. Towards ten o'clock he would come back for
his coffee, which they had on the veranda: Mary Pavlovna, an uncle who
lived with them, and Liza. After a conversation which was often very
animated while they drank their coffee, they dispersed till
dinner-time. At two o'clock they dined and then went for a walk or a
drive. In the evening when he returned from the office they drank
their evening tea and sometimes he read aloud while she worked, or when
there were guests they had music or conversation. When he went away on
business he wrote to his wife and received letters from her every day.
Sometimes she accompanied him, and then they were particularly merry.
On his name-day and on her guests assembled, and it pleased him to see
how well she managed to arrange things so that everybody enjoyed
coming. He saw and heard that they all admired her -- the young,
agreeable hostess -- and he loved her still more for this.
All went excellently. She bore her pregnancy easily and, thought
they were afraid, they both began making plans as to how they would
bring the child up. The system of education and the arrangements were
all decided by Eugene, and her only wish was to carry out his desires
obediently. Eugene on his part read up medical works and intended to
bring the child up according to all the precepts of science. She of
course agreed to everything and made preparations, making warm and also
cool "envelopes", and preparing a cradle. Thus the second year of
their marriage arrived and the second spring.
It was just before Trinity sunday. Liza was in her fifth month,
and though careful she was still brisk and active. Both his mother and
hers were living in the house, but under the pretext of watching and
safeguarding her only upset her by their tiffs. Eugene was specially
engrossed with a new experiment for the cultivation of sugar-beet on a
Just before Trinity Liza decided it was necessary to have a
thorough house-cleaning as it had not been done since Easter, and she
hired two women by the day to help the servants wash the floors and
windows, beat the furniture and the carpets, and put covers on them.
These women came early in the morning, heated the coppers, and set to
work. One of the two was Stepanida, who had just weaned her baby boy
and had begged for the job of washing the floors through the
office-clerk -- whom she now carried on with. She wanted to have a
good look at the new mistress. Stepanida was living by herself as
formerly, her husband being away, and she was up to tricks as she had
formerly been first with old Daniel (who had once caught her taking
some logs of firewood), afterwards with the master, and now with the
young clerk. She was not concerning herself any longer about her
master. "He has a wife now," she thought. But it would be good to
have a look at the lady and at her establishment: folk said it was
Eugene had not seen her since he had met her with the child.
Having a baby to attend to she had not been going out to work, and he
seldom walked through the village. that morning, on the eve of Trinity
Sunday, he got up at five o'clock and rode to the fallow land which was
to sprinkled with phosphates, and had left the house before the women
were about, and while they were still engaged lighting the copper
He returned to breakfast merry, contented, and hungry; dismounting
from his mare at the gate and handing her over to the gardener.
Flicking the high grass with his whip and repeating a phrase he had
just uttered, as one often does, he walked towards the house. The
phrase was: "phosphates justify" -- what or to whom, he neither knew
They were beating a carpet on the grass. The furniture had been
"There now! What a house-cleaning Liza has undertaken! ...
Phosphates justify....What a manageress she is! Yes, a manageress,"
said he to himself, vividly imagining her in her white wrapper and with
her smiling joyful face, as it nearly always was when he looked at her.
"Yes, I must change my boots, or else `phosphates justify', that is,
smell of manure, and the manageress in such a condition. Why `in such
a condition'? Because a new little Irtenev is growing there inside
her," he thought. "Yes, phosphates justify," and smiling at his
thoughts he put his hand to the door of his room.
But he had not time to push the door before it opened of itself and
he came face to face with a woman coming towards him carrying a pail,
barefoot and with sleeves turned up high. He stepped aside to let her
pass and she too stepped aside, adjusting her kerchief with a wet hand.
"Go on, go on, I won't go in, if you ... " began Eugene and
suddenly stopped, recognizing her.
She glanced merrily at him with smiling eyes, and pulling down her
skirt went out at the door.
"What nonsense!...It is impossible," said Eugene to himself,
frowning and waving his hand as though to get rid of a fly, displeased
at having noticed her. He was vexed that he had noticed her and yet he
could not take his eyes from her strong body, swayed by her agile
strides, from her bare feet, or from her arms and shoulders, and the
pleasing folds of her shirt and the handsome skirt tucked up high above
her white calves.
"But why am I looking?" said he to himself, lowering his eyes so as
not to see her. "And anyhow I must go in to get some other boots."
and he turned back to go into his own room, but had not gone five
steps before he again glanced round to have another look at her without
knowing why or wherefore. She was just going round the corner and also
glanced at him.
"Ah, what am I doing!" said he to himself. "She may think...It is
even certain that she already does think..."
He entered his damp room. another woman, an old and skinny one,
was there, and was still washing it. Eugene passed on tiptoe across
the floor, wet with dirty water, to the wall where his boots stood, and
he was about to leave the room when the woman herself went out.
"This one has gone and the other, Stepanida, will come here alone,"
someone within him began to reflect.
"My God, what am I thinking of and what am I doing!" He seized his
boots and ran out with them into the hall, put them on there, brushed
himself, and went out onto the veranda where both the mammas were
already drinking coffee. Liza had evidently been expecting him and
came onto the veranda through another door at the same time.
"My God! If she, who considers me so honourable, pure, and
innocent -- if she only knew!" -- thought he.
Liza as usual met him with shining face. But today somehow she
seemed to him particularly pale, yellow, long, and weak.
During coffee, as often happened, a peculiarly feminine kind of
conversation went on which had no logical sequence but which evidently
was connected in some way for it went on uninterruptedly.
The two old ladies were pin-pricking one another, and Liza was
skillfully manoeuvring between them.
"I am so vexed that we had not finished washing your room before
you got back," she said to her husband. "But I do so want to get
"Well, did you sleep well after I got up?"
"Yes, I slept well and I fell well."
"How can a woman be well in her condition during this intolerable
heat, when her windows face the sun," said Varvara Alexeevna, her
mother. "And they have no venetian-blinds or awnings. I always had
"But you know we are in the shade after ten o'clock," said Mary
"That's what causes fever; it comes of dampness," said Varvara
Alexeevna, not noticing that what she was saying did not agree with
what she had just said. "My doctor always says that it is impossible
to diagnose an illness unless one knows the patient. and he certainly
knows, for he is the leading physician and we pay him a hundred rubles
a visit. My late husband did not believe in doctors, but he did not
grudge me anything."
"How can a man grudge anything to a woman when perhaps her life and
the child's depend..."
"Yes, when she has means a wife need not depend on her husband. A
good wife submits to her husband," said Varvara Alexeevna -- "only Liza
is too weak after her illness."
"Oh no, mamma, I feel quite well. But why have they not brought
you any boiled cream?"
"I don't want any. I can do with raw cream."
"I offered some to Varvara Alexeevna, but she declined," said Mary
Pavlovna, as if justifying herself.
"No, I don't want any today." and as if to terminate an unpleasant
conversation and yield magnanimously, Varvara Alexeevna turned to
Eugene and said: "Well, and have you sprinkled the phosphates?"
Liza ran to fetch the cream.
"But I don't want it. I don't want it."
"Liza, Liza, go gently," said Mary Pavlovna. "Such rapid movements
do her harm."
"Nothing does harm if one's mind is at peace," said Varvara
Alexeevna as if referring to something, though she knew that there was
nothing her words could refer to.
Liza returned with the cream and Eugene drank his coffee and
listened morosely. He was accustomed to these conversations, but today
he was particularly annoyed by its lack of sense. He wanted to think
over what had happened to him but this chatter disturbed him. Having
finished her coffee Varvara Alexeevna went away in a bad humour. Liza,
Eugene, and Mary Pavlovna stayed behind, and their conversation was
simple and pleasant. But Liza, being sensitive, at once noticed that
something was tormenting Eugene, and she asked him whether anything
unpleasant had happened. He was not prepared for this question and
hesitated a little before replying that there had been nothing. This
reply made Liza think all the more. That something was tormenting him,
and greatly tormenting, was as evident to her as that a fly had fallen
into the milk, yet he would not speak of it. What could it be?
After breakfast they all dispersed. Eugene as usual went to his
study, but instead of beginning to read or write his letters, he sat
smoking one cigarette after another and thinking. He was terribly
surprised and disturbed by the unexpected recrudescence within him of
the bad feeling from which he had thought himself free since his
marriage. Since then he had not once experienced that feeling, either
for her -- the woman he had known -- or for any other woman except his
wife. He had often felt glad of this emancipation, and now suddenly a
chance meeting, seemingly so unimportant, revealed to him the fact that
he was not free. What now tormented him was not that he was yielding
to that feeling and desired her -- he did not dream of so doing -- but
that the feeling was awake within him and he had to be on his guard
against it. He had not doubt but that he would suppress it.
He had a letter to answer and a paper to write, and sat down at his
writing table and began to work. Having finished it and quite
forgotten what had disturbed him, he went out to go to the stables.
And again as ill-luck would have it, either by unfortunate chance or
intentionally, as soon as he stepped from the porch a red skirt and a
red kerchief appeared from round the corner, and she went past him
swinging her arms and swaying her body. She not only went past him,
but on passing him ran, as if playfully, to overtake her
Again the bright midday, the nettles, the back of Daniel's hut, and
in the shade of the plant-trees her smiling face biting some leaves,
rose in his imagination.
"No, it is impossible to let matters continue so," he said to
himself, and waiting till the women had passed out of sight he went to
It was just the dinner-hour and he hoped to find the steward still
there, and so it happened. The steward was just waking up from his
after-dinner nap, and stretching himself and yawning was standing in
the office, looking at the herdsman who was telling him something.
"Vasili Nikolaich!" said Eugene to the steward.
"What is your pleasure?"
"Just finish what you are saying."
"Aren't you going to bring it in?" said Vasili Nikolaich to the
"It's heavy, Vasili Nikolaich."
"What is it?" asked Eugene.
"Why, a cow has calved in the meadow. Well, all right, I'll order
them to harness a horse at once. Tell Nicholas Lysukh to get out the
The herdsman went out.
"Do you know," began Eugene, flushing and conscious that he was
doing so, "do you know, Vasili Nikolaich, while I was a bachelor I went
off the track a bit....You may have heard..."
Vasili Nikolaich, evidently sorry for his master, said with smiling
eyes: "Is it about Stepanida?"
"Why, yes. Look here. Please, please do not engage her to help in
the house. You understand, it is very awkward for me..."
"Yes, it must have been Vanya the clerk who arranged it."
"Yes, please...and hadn't the rest of the phosphate better be
strewn?" said Eugene, to hide his confusion.
"Yes, I am just going to see to it."
So the matter ended, and Eugene calmed down, hoping that as he had
lived for a year without seeing her, so things would go on now.
"Besides, Vasili Nikolaich will speak to Ivan the clerk; Ivan will
speak to her, and she will understand that I don't want it," said
Eugene to himself, and he was glad he had forced himself to speak to
Vasili Nikolaich, hard as it had been to do so.
"Yes, it is better, much better, than that feeling of doubt, that
feeling of shame." He shuddered at the mere remembrance of his sin in
The moral effort he had made to overcome his shame and speak to
Vasili Nikolaich tranquillized Eugene. It seemed to him that the
matter was all over now. Liza at once noticed that he was quite calm,
and even happier than usual. "No doubt he was upset by our mothers
pin-pricking one another. It really is disagreeable, especially for
him who is so sensitive and noble, always to hear such unfriendly and
ill-mannered insinuations," thought she.
The next day was Trinity Sunday. It was a beautiful day, and the
peasant-women, on their way into the woods to plait wreaths, came,
according to custom, to the landowner's home and began to sing and
dance. Mary Pavlovna and Varvara Alexeevna came out onto the porch in
smart clothes, carrying sunshades, and went up to the ring of singers.
With them, in a jacket of Chinese silk, came out the uncle, a flabby
libertine and drunkard, who was living that summer with Eugene.
As usual there was a bright, many-coloured ring of young women and
girls, the centre of everything, and around these from different sides
like attendant planets that had detached themselves and were circling
round, went girls hand in hand, rustling in their new print gowns;
young lads giggling and running backwards and forwards after one
another; full-grown lads in dark blue or black coats and caps and with
red shirts, who unceasingly spat out sunflower-seed shells; and the
domestic servants or other outsiders watching the cance-circle from
aside. Both the old ladies went close up to the ring, and Liza
accompanied them in a light blue dress, with light blue ribbons on her
head, and with wide sleeves under which her long white arms and angular
elbows were visible.
Eugene did not wish to come out, but it was ridiculous to hide, and
he too came out onto the porch smoking a cigarette, bowed to the men
and lads, and talked with one of them. The women meanwhile shouted a
dance-song with all their might, snapping their fingers, clapping their
hands, and dancing.
"They are calling for the master," said a youngster coming up to
Eugene's wife, who had not noticed the call. Liza called Eugene to
look at the dance and at one of the women dancers who particularly
pleased her. This was Stepanida. She wore a yellow skirt, a velveteen
sleeveless jacket and a silk kerchief, and was broad, energetic, ruddy,
and merry. No doubt she danced well. He saw nothing.
"Yes, yes," he said, removing and replacing his pince-nez. "Yes,
yes," he repeated. "So it seems I cannot be rid of her," he thought.
He did not look at her, fearing her attraction, and just on that
account what his passing glance caught of her seemed to him especially
attractive. Besides this he saw by her sparkling look that she saw him
and saw that he admired her. He stood there as long as propriety
demanded, and seeing that Varvara Alexeevna had called her "my dear"
senselessly and insincerely and was talking to her, he turned aside and
He went into the house in order not to see her, but on reaching the
upper story he approached the window, without knowing how or why, and
as long as the women remained at the porch he stood there and looked
and looked at her, feasting his eyes on her.
He ran, while there was no one to see him, and then went with quiet
steps onto the veranda and from there, smoking a cigarette, he passed
through the garden as if going for a stroll, and followed the direction
she had taken. He had not gone two steps along the alley before he
noticed behind the trees a velveteen sleeveless jacket, with a pink and
yellow skirt and a red kerchief. She was going somewhere with another
woman. "Where are they going?"
And suddenly a terrible desire scorched him as though a hand were
seizing his heart. As if by someone else's wish he looked round and
went towards her.
"Eugene Ivanich, Eugene Ivanich! I have come to see your honour,"
said a voice behind him, and Eugene, seeing old Samokhin who was
digging a well for him, roused himself and turning quickly round went
to meet Samokhin. While speaking with him he turned sideways and saw
that she and the woman who was with her went down the slope, evidently
to the well or making an excuse of the well, and having stopped there a
little while ran back to the dance- circle.
After talking to Samokhin, Eugene returned to the house as
depressed as if he had committed a crime. In the first place she had
understood him, believed that he wanted to see her, and desired it
herself. Secondly that other woman, Anna Prokhorova, evidently knew of
Above all he felt that he was conquered, that he was not master of
his own will but that there was another power moving him, that he had
been saved only by good fortune, and that if not today then tomorrow or
a day later, he would perish all the same.
"Yes, perish," he did not understand it otherwise: to be
unfaithful to his young and loving wife with a peasant woman in the
village, in the sight of everyone -- what was it but to perish, perish
utterly, so that it would be impossible to live? No, something must be
"My God, my God! What am I to do? Can it be that I shall perish
like this?" said he to himself. Is it not possible to do anything?
Yet something must be done. Do not think about her" -- he ordered
himself. "Do not think!" and immediately he began thinking and seeing
her before him, and seeing also the shade of the plane-tree.
He remembered having read of a hermit who, to avoid the temptation
he felt for a woman on whom he had to lay his hand to heal her, thrust
his other hand into a brazier and burnt his fingers. he called that to
mind. "Yes, I am ready to burn my fingers rather than to perish." He
looked round to make sure that there was no one in the room, lit a
candle, and put a finger into the flame. "There, now think about her,"
he said to himself ironically. It hurt him and he withdrew his
smoke-stained finger, threw away the match, and laughed at himself.
What nonsense! That was not what had to be done. But it was
necessary to do something, to avoid seeing her -- either to go away
himself or to send her away. yes -- send her away. Offer her husband
money to remove to town or to another village. People would hear of it
and would talk about it. Well, what of that? At any rate it was
better than this danger. "Yes, that must be done," he said to himself,
and at that very moment he was looking at her without moving his eyes.
"Where is she going?" he suddenly asked himself. She, it seemed to
him, had seen him at the window and now, having glanced at him and
taken another woman by the hand, was going towards the garden swinging
her arm briskly. Without knowing why or wherefore, merely in accord
with what he had been thinking, he went to the office.
Vasili Nikolaich in holiday costume and with oiled hair was sitting
at tea with his wife and a guest who was wearing an oriental kerchief.
"I want a word with you, Vasili Nikolaich!"
"Please say what you want to. We have finished tea."
"No. I'd rather you came out with me."
"Directly; only let me get my cap. Tanya, put out the samovar,"
said Vasili Nikolaich, stepping outside cheerfully. It seemed to
Eugene that Vasili had been drinking, but what was to be done? It
might be all the better -- he would sympathize with him in his
difficulties the more readily.
"I have come again to speak about that same matter, Vasili
Nikolaich," said Eugene -- "about that woman."
"Well, what of her? I told them not to take her again on any
"No, I have been thinking in general, and this is what I wanted to
take your advice about. Isn't it possible to get them away, to send
the whole family away?"
"Where can they be sent?" said Vasili, disapprovingly and
ironically as it seem to Eugene.
"Well, I thought of giving them money, or even some land in
Koltovski, -- so that she should not be here."
"But how can they be sent away? Where is he to go -- torn up from
his roots? And why should you do it? What harm can she do you?"
"Ah, Vasili Nikolaich, you must understand that it would be
dreadful for my wife to hear of it."
"But who will tell her?"
"How can I live with this dread? The whole thing is vary painful
"But really, why should you distress yourself? Whoever stirs up
the past -- out with his eye! Who is not a sinner before God and to
blame before the Tsar, as the saying is?"
"All the same it would be better to get rid of them. Can't you
speak to the husband?"
"But it is no use speaking! Eh, Eugene Ivanich, what is the matter
with you? It is all past and forgotten. All sorts of things happen.
Who is there that would now say anything bad of you? Everybody sees
"But all the same go and have a talk with him."
"All right, I will speak to him."
Though he knew that nothing would come of it, this talk somewhat
calmed Eugene. Above all, it made him feel that through excitement he
had been exaggerating the danger.
Had he gone to meet her by appointment? It was impossible He had
simply gone to stroll in the garden and she had happened to run out at
the same time.
After dinner that very Trinity Sunday Liza while walking from the
garden to the meadow, where her husband wanted to show her the clover,
took a false step and fell when crossing a little ditch. She fell
gently, on her side; but she gave an exclamation, and her husband saw
an expression in her face not only of fear but of pain. He was about
to help her up, but she motioned him away with her hand.
"No, wait a bit, Eugene," she said, with a weak smile, and looked
up guiltily as it seemed to him. "My foot only gave way under me."
"There, I always say," remarked Varvara Alexeevna, "can anyone in
her condition possibly jump over ditches?"
"But it is all right, mamma. I shall get up directly." With her
husband's help she did get up, but she immediately turned pale, and
"Yes, I am not well!" and she whispered something to her mother.
"Oh, my God, what have you done! I said you ought not to go
there," cried Varvara Alexeevna. "Wait -- I will call the servants.
She must not walk. She must be carried!"
"Don't be afraid, Liza, I will carry you," said Eugene, putting his
left arm round her. "Hold me by the neck. Like that." And stopping
down he put his right arm under her knees and lifted her. He could
never afterwards forget the suffering and yet beatific expression of
"I am too heavy for you, dear," she said with a smile. "Mamma is
running, tell her!" And she bent towards him and kissed him. She
evidently wanted her mother to see how he was carrying her.
Eugene shouted to Varvara Alexeevna not to hurry, and that he would
carry Liza home. Varvara Alexeevna stopped and began to shout still
"You will drop her, you'll be sure to drop her. You want to
destroy her. You have no conscience!"
"But I am carrying her excellently."
"I do not want to watch you killing my daughter, and I can't." And
she ran round the bend in the alley.
"Never mind, it will pass," said Liza, smiling.
"Yes, If only it does not have consequences like last time."
"No. I am not speaking of that. That is all right. I mean mamma.
You are tired. Rest a bit."
But though he found it heavy, Eugene carried his burden proudly and
gladly to the house and did not hand her over to the housemaid and the
mann-cook whom Varvara Alexeevna had found and sent to meet them. He
carried her to the bedroom and put her on the bed.
"Now go away," she said, and drawing his hand to her she kissed it.
"Annushka and I will manage all right."
Mary Pavlovna also ran in from her rooms in the wing. They
undressed Liza and laid her on the bed. Eugene sat in the drawing room
with a book in his hand, waiting. Varvara Alexeevna went past him with
such a reproachfully gloomy air that he felt alarmed.
"Well, how is it?" he asked.
"How is it? What's the good of asking? It is probably what you
wanted when you made your wife jump over the ditch."
"Varvara Alexeevna!" he cried. "This is impossible. If you want
to torment people and to poison their life" (he wanted to say, "then go
elsewhere to do it," but restrained himself). "How is it that it does
not hurt you?"
"It is too late now." And shaking her cap in a triumphant manner
she passed out by the door.
The fall had really been a bad one; Liza's foot had twisted
awkwardly and there was danger of her having another miscarriage.
Everyone knew that there was nothing to be done but that she must just
lie quietly, yet all the same they decided to send for a doctor.
"Dear Nikolay Semenich," wrote Eugene to the doctor, "you have
always been so kind to us that I hope you will not refuse to come to my
wife's assistance. She..." and so on. Having written the letter he
went to the stables to arrange about the horses and the carriage.
Horses had to be got ready to bring the doctor and others to take him
back. When an estate is not run on a large scale, such things cannot
be quickly decided but have to be considered. Having arranged it all
and dispatched the coachman, it was past nine before he got back to the
house. His wife was lying down, and said that she felt perfectly well
and had no pain. But Varvara Alexeevna was sitting with a lamp
screened from Liza by some sheets of music and knitting a large red
coverlet, with a mien that said that after what had happened peace was
impossible, but that she at any rate would do her duty no matter what
anyone else did.
Eugene noticed this, but, to appear as if he had not done so, tried
to assume a cheerful and tranquil air and told how he had chosen the
horses and how capitally the mare, Kabushka, had galloped as left
trace-horse in the troyka.
"Yes, of course, it is just the time to exercise the horses when
help is needed. Probably the doctor will also be thrown into the
ditch," remarked Varvara Alexeevna, examining her knitting from under
her pince-nez and moving it close up to the lamp.
"but you know we had to send one way or another, and I made the
best arrangement I could."
"Yes, I remember very well how your horses galloped with me under
the arch of the gateway." This was a long-standing fancy of hers, and
Eugene now was injudicious enough to remark that that was not quite
what had happened.
"It is not for nothing that I have always said, and have often
remarked to the prince, that it is hardest of all to live with people
who are untruthful and insincere. I can endure anything except that."
"Well, if anyone has to suffer more than another, it is certainly
I," said Eugene. "But you..."
"Yes, it is evident."
"Nothing, I am only counting my stitches."
Eugene was standing at the time by the bed and Liza was looking at
him, and one of her moist hands outside the coverlet caught his hand
and pressed it. "Bear with her for my sake. You know she cannot
prevent our loving one another," was what her look said.
"I won't do so again. It's nothing," he whispered, and he kissed
her damp, long hand and then her affectionate eyes, which closed while
he kissed them.
"Can it be the same thing over again?" he asked. "How are you
"I am afraid to say for fear of being mistaken, but I feel that he
is alive and will live," said she, glancing at her stomach.
"Ah, it is dreadful, dreadful to think of."
Notwithstanding Liza's insistence that he should go away, Eugene
spent the night with her, hardly closing an eye and ready to attend on
But she passed the night well, and had they not sent for the doctor
she would perhaps have got up.
By dinner-time the doctor arrived and of course said that though if
the symptoms recurred there might be cause for apprehension, yet
actually there were no positive symptoms, but as there were also no
contrary indications one might suppose on the one hand that -- and on
the other hand that... And therefore she must lie still, and that
"though I do not like prescribing, yet all the same she should take
this mixture and should lie quiet." Besides this, the doctor gave
Varvara Alexeevna a lecture on woman's anatomy, during which Varvara
Alexeevna nodded her head significantly. Having received his fee, as
usual into the backmost part of his palm, the doctor drove away and the
patient was left to lie in bed for a week.
Eugene spent most of his time by his wife's bedside, talking to
her, reading to her, and what was hardest of all, enduring without
murmur Varvara Alexeevna's attacks, and even contriving to turn these
But he could not stay at home all the time. In the first place his
wife sent him away, saying that he would fall ill if he always remained
with her; and secondly the farming was progressing in a way that
demanded his presence at every step. He could not stay at home, but
had to be in the fields, in the wood, in the garden, at the
thrashing-floor; and everywhere he was pursued not merely by the
thought but by the vivid image of Stepanida, and he only occasionally
forgot her. But that would not have mattered, he could perhaps have
mastered his feeling; what was worst of all was that, whereas he had
previously lived for months without seeing her, he now continually came
across her. She evidently understood that he wished to renew relations
with her and tried to come in his way. Nothing was said either by him
or by her, and therefore neither he nor she went directly to a
rendezvous, but only sought opportunities of meeting.
The most possible place for them to meet was in the forest, where
peasant-women went with sacks to collect grass for their cows. Eugene
knew this and therefore went there every day. Every day he told
himself that he would not go, and every day it ended by his making his
way to the forest and, on hearing the sound of voices, standing behind
the bushes with sinking heart looking to see if she was there.
Why he wanted to know whether it was she who was there, he did not
know. If it had been she and she had been alone, he would not have
gone to her -- so he believed -- he would have run away; but he wanted
to see her.
Once he met her. As he was entering the forest she came out of it
with two other women, carrying a heavy sack full of grass on her back.
A little earlier he would perhaps have met her in the forest. Now,
with the other women there, she could not go back to him. But though
he realized this impossibility, he stood for a long time behind a hazel
bush, at the risk of attracting the other women's attention. Of course
she did not return, but he stayed there a long time. and, great
heavens, how delightful his imagination made her appear to him! And
this not only once, but five or six times, and each time more
intensely. never had she seemed so attractive, and never had he been
so completely in her power.
He felt that he had lost control of himself and had become almost
insane. His strictness with himself had not weakened a jog; on the
contrary he saw all the abomination of his desire and even of his
action, for his going to the wood was an action. He knew that he only
need come near her anywhere in the dark, and if possible touch her, and
he would yield to his feelings. He knew that it was only shame before
people, before her, and no doubt before himself that restrained him.
And he knew too that he had sought conditions in which that shame
would not be apparent -- darkness or proximity -- in which it would be
stifled by animal passion. and therefore he knew that he was a
wretched criminal, and despised and hated himself with all his soul.
He hated himself because he still had not surrendered: every day he
prayed God to strengthen him, to save him from perishing; every day he
determined that from today onward he would not take a step to see her,
and would forget her. Every day he devised means of delivering himself
from this enticement, and he made use of those means.
But it was all in vain.
One of the means was continual occupation; another was intense
physical work and fasting; a third was imagining to himself the shame
that would fall upon him when everybody knew of it -- his wife, his
mother-in-law, and the folk around. He did all this and it seemed to
him that he was conquering, but midday came -- the hour of their former
meetings and the hour when he had met her carrying the grass -- and he
went to the forest. Thus five days of torment passed. He only saw her
from a distance, and did not once encounter her.
Liza was gradually recovering, she could move about and was only
uneasy at the change that had taken place in her husband, which she did
Varvara Alexeevna had gone away for a while, and the only visitor
was Eugene's uncle. Mary Pavlovna was as usual at home.
Eugene was in his semi-insane condition when there came two days of
pouring rain, as often happens after thunder in June. The rain stopped
all work. They even ceased carting manure on account of the dampness
and dirt. The peasants remained at home. The herdsmen wore themselves
out with the cattle, and eventually drove them home. The cows and
sheep wandered about in the pastureland and ran loose in the grounds.
The peasant women, barefoot and wrapped in shawls, splashing through
the mud, rushed about to seek the runaway cows. Streams flowed
everywhere along the paths, all the leaves and all the grass were
saturated with water, and streams flowed unceasingly from the spouts
into the bubbling puddles. Eugene sat at home with his wife, who was
particularly wearisome that day. She questioned Eugene several times
as to the cause of his discontent, and he replied with vexation that
nothing was the matter. She ceased questioning him but was still
They were sitting after breakfast in the drawing room. His uncle
for the hundredth time was recounting fabrications about his society
acquaintances. Liza was knitting a jacket and sighed, complaining of
the weather and of a pain in the small of her back. The uncle advised
her to lie down, and asked for vodka for himself. It was terribly dull
for Eugene in the house. Everything was weak and dull. He read a book
and a magazine, but understood nothing of them.
"I must go out and look at the rasping-machine they brought
yesterday," said he, and got up and went out.
"Take an umbrella with you."
"Oh, no, I have a leather coat. And I am only going as far as the
He put on his boots and his leather coat and went to the factory;
and he had not gone twenty steps before he met her coming towards him,
with her skirts tucked up high above her white calves. She was
walking, holding down the shawl in which her head and shoulders were
"Where are you going?" said he, not recognizing her the first
instant. When he recognized her it was already too late. She stopped,
smiling, and looked long at him.
"I am looking for a calf. Where are you off to in such weather?"
said she, as if she were seeing him every day.
"Come to the shed," said he suddenly, without knowing how he said
it. It was as if someone else had uttered the words.
She bit her shawl, winked, and ran in the direction which led from
the garden to the shed, and he continued his path, intending to turn
off beyond the lilac-bush and go there too.
"Master," he heard a voice behind him. "The mistress is calling
you, and wants you to come back for a minute."
This was Misha, his man-servant.
"My God! This is the second time you have saved me," thought
Eugene, and immediately turned back. His wife reminded him that he had
promised to take some medicine at the dinner hour to a sick woman, and
he had better take it with him.
While they were getting the medicine some five minutes elapsed, and
then, going away with the medicine, he hesitated to go direct to the
shed lest he should be seen from the house, but as soon as he was out
of sight he promptly turned and made his way to it. He already saw her
in imagination inside the shed smiling gaily. But she was not there,
and there was nothing in the shed to show that she had been there.
He was already thinking that she had not come, had not heard or
understood his words -- he had muttered them through his nose as if
afraid of her hearing them -- or perhaps she had not wanted to come.
"And why did I imagine that she would rush to me? She has her own
husband; it is only I who am such a wretch as to have a wife, and a
good one, and to run after another." Thus he thought sitting in the
shed, the thatch of which had a leak and dripped from its straw. "But
how delightful it would be if she did come -- alone here in this rain.
If only I could embrace her once again, then let happen what may. But
I could tell if she has been here by her footprints," he reflected. He
looked at the trodden ground near the shed and at the path overgrown by
grass, and the fresh print of bare feet, and even of one that had
slipped, was visible.
"Yes, she has been here. Well, now it is settled. Wherever I may
see her I shall go straight to her. I will go to her at night." He
sat for a long time in the shed and left it exhausted and crushed. He
delivered the medicine, returned home, and lay down in his room to wait
Before dinner Liza came to him and, still wondering what could be
the cause of his discontent, began to say that she was afraid he did
not like the idea of her going to Moscow for her confinement, and that
she had decided that she would remain at home and on no account go to
Moscow. He knew how she feared both her confinement itself and the
risk of not having a healthy child, and therefore he could not help
being touched at seeing how ready she was to sacrifice everything for
his sake. All was so nice, so pleasant, so clean, in the house; and in
his soul it was so dirty, despicable, and foul. the whole evening
Eugene was tormented by knowing that notwithstanding his sincere
repulsion at his own weakness, notwithstanding his firm intention to
break off, -- the same thing would happen again tomorrow.
"no, this is impossible," he said to himself, walking up and down
in his room. "There must be some remedy for it. My God! What am I to
Someone knocked at the door as foreigners do. he knew this must be
his uncle. "Come in," he said.
The uncle had come as a self-appointed ambassador from Liza.
"Do you know, I really do notice that there is a change in you," he
said, -- "and Liza -- I understand how it troubles her. I understand
that it must be hard for you to leave all the business you have so
excellently started, but *que veux-tu*? I should advise you to go
away. it will be more satisfactory both for you and for her. And do
you know, I should advise you to go to the Crimea. The climate is
beautiful and there is an excellent *accoucheur* there, and you would
be just in time for the best of the grape season."
"Uncle," Eugene suddenly exclaimed. "Can you keep a secret? A
secret that is terrible tome, a shameful secret."
"Oh, come -- do you really feel any doubt of me?"
"Uncle, you can help me. Not only help, but save me!" said Eugene.
And the thought of disclosing his secret to his uncle whom he did not
respect, the thought that he should show himself in the worst light and
humiliate himself before him, was pleasant. He felt himself to be
despicable and guilty, and wished to punish himself.
"Speak, my dear fellow, you know how fond I am of you," said the
uncle, evidently well content that there was a secret and that it was a
shameful one, and that it would be communicated to him, and that he
could be of use.
"first of all I must tell you that I am a wretch, a good-for-
nothing, a scoundrel -- a real scoundrel."
"Now what are you saying..." began his uncle, as if he were
"What! Not a wretch when I -- Liza's husband, Liza's! One has
only to know her purity, her love -- and that I, her husband, want to
be untrue to her with a peasant-woman!"
"What is this? Why do you want to -- you have not bee unfaithful
"Yes, at least just the same as being untrue, for it did not depend
on me. I was ready to do so. I was hindered, or else I should...now.
I do not know what I should have done..."
"But please, explain to me..."
"Well, it is like this. When I was a bachelor I was stupid enough
to have relations with a woman here in our village. That is to say, I
used to have meetings with her in the forest, in the field..."
"Was she pretty?" asked his uncle.
Eugene frowned at this question, but he was in such need of
external help that he made as if he did not hear it, and continued:
"Well, I thought this was just casual and that I should break it
off and have done with it. And I did break it off before my marriage.
For nearly a year I did not see her or think about her." It seemed
strange to Eugene himself to hear the description of his own condition.
"Then suddenly, I don't myself know why -- really one sometimes
believes in witchcraft -- I saw her, and a worm crept into my heart;
and it gnaws. I reproach myself, I understand the full horror of my
action, that is to say, of the act I may commit any moment, and yet I
myself turn to it, and if I have not committed it, it is only because
God preserved me. Yesterday I was on my way to see her when Liza sent
"What, in the rain?"
"Yes. I am worn out, Uncle, and have decided to confess to you and
to ask your help." "Yes, of course, it's a bad thing on your own
estate. People will get to know. I understand that Liza is weak and
that it is necessary to spare her, but why on your own estate?"
Again Eugene tried not to hear what his uncle was saying, and
hurried on to the core of the matter.
"Yes, save me from myself. That is what I ask of you. Today I was
hindered by chance. But tomorrow or next time no one will hinder me.
And she knows now. Don't leave me alone."
"Yes, all right," said his uncle, -- "but are you really so much in
"Oh, it is not that at all. It is not that, it is some kind of
power that has seized me and holds me. I do not know what to do.
Perhaps I shall gain strength, and then..."
"Well, it turns out as I suggested," said his uncle. "Let us be
off to the Crimea."
"Yes, yes, let us go, and meanwhile you will be with me and will
talk to me."
The fact that Eugene had confided his secret to his uncle, and
still more the sufferings of his conscience and the feeling of shame he
experienced after that rainy day, sobered him. It was settled that
they would start for Yalta in a week's time. During that week Eugene
drove to town to get money for the journey, gave instructions from the
house and from the office concerning the management of the estate,
again became gay and friendly with his wife, and began to awaken
So without having once seen Stepanida after that rainy day he left
with his wife for the Crimea. There he spent an excellent two months.
He received so many new impressions that it seemed to him that the
past was obliterated from his memory. In the Crimea they met former
acquaintances and became particularly friendly with them, and they also
made new acquaintances. Life in the Crimea was a continual holiday for
Eugene, besides being instructive and beneficial. They became friendly
there with the former Marshal of the Nobility of their province, a
clever and liberal-minded man who became fond of Eugene and coached
him, and attracted him to his Party.
At the end of August Liza gave birth to a beautiful, healthy
daughter, and her confinement was unexpectedly easy.
In September they returned home, the four of them, including the
baby and its wet-nurse, as Liza was unable to nurse it herself. Eugene
returned home entirely free from the former horrors and quite a new and
happy man. Having gone through all that a husband goes through when
his wife bears a child, he loved her more than ever. His feeling for
the child when he took it in his arms was a funny, new, very pleasant
and, as it were, a tickling feeling. Another new thing in his life now
was that, besides his occupation with the estate, thanks to his
acquaintance with Dumchin (the ex- Marshal) a new interest occupied his
mind, that of the Zemstvo -- partly an ambitious interest, partly a
feeling of duty. In October there was to be a special Assembly, at
which he was to be elected. After arriving home he drove once to town
and another time to Dumchin.
Of the torments of his temptation and struggle he had forgotten
even to think, and could with difficulty recall them to mind. It
seemed to him something like an attack of insanity he had undergone.
To such an extend did he now feel free from it that he was not even
afraid to make inquiries on the first occasion when he remained alone
with the steward. As he had previously spoken to him about the matter
he was not ashamed to ask.
"Well, and is Sidor Pechnikov still away from home?" he inquired.
"Yes, he is still in town."
"And his wife?"
"Oh, she is a worthless woman. She is now carrying on with Zenovi.
She has gone quite on the loose."
"Well, that is all right," thought Eugene. "How wonderfully
indifferent to it I am! How I have changed."
All that Eugene had wished had been realized. he had obtained the
property, the factory was working successfully, the beet-crops were
excellent, and he expected a large income; his wife had borne a child
satisfactorily, his mother-in-law had left, and he had been unanimously
elected to the Zemstvo.
He was returning home from town after the election. He had been
congratulated and had had to return thanks. He had had dinner and had
drunk some five glasses of champagne. Quite new plans of life now
presented themselves to him, and he was thinking about these as he
drove home. It was the Indian summer: an excellent road and a hot
sun. As he approached his home Eugene was thinking of how, as a result
of this election, he would occupy among the people the position he had
always dreamed of; that is to say, one in which he would be able to
serve them not only by production, which gave employment, but also by
direct influence. He imagined what his own and the other peasants
would think of him in three years' time. "For instance this one," he
thought, drifting just then through the village and glancing at a
peasant who with a peasant woman was crossing the street in front of
him carrying a full water-tub. They stopped to let his carriage pass.
The peasant was old Pechnikov, and the woman was Stepanida. Eugene
looked at her, recognized her, and was glad to feel that he remained
quite tranquil. She was still as good looking as ever, but this did
not touch him at all. He drove home.
"Well, may we congratulate you?" said his uncle.
"Yes, I was elected."
"Capital! We must drink to it!"
Next day Eugene drove about to see to the farming which he had been
neglecting. At the outlying farmstead a new thrashing machine was at
work. While watching it Eugene stepped among the women, trying not to
take notice of them; but try as he would he once or twice noticed the
black eyes and red kerchief of Stepanida, who was carrying away the
straw. Once or twice he glanced sideways at her and felt that
something was happening, but could not account for it to himself. Only
next day, when he again drove to the thrashing floor and spent two
hours there quite unnecessarily, without ceasing to caress with his
eyes the familiar, handsome figure of the young woman, did he feel that
he was lost, irremediably lost. Again those torments! Again all that
horror and fear, and there was no saving himself.
What he expected happened to him. The evening of the next day,
without knowing how, he found himself at her back yard, by her hay
shed, where in autumn they had once had a meeting. As though having a
stroll, he stopped there lighting a cigarette. A neighbouring
peasant-woman saw him, and as he turned back he heard her say to
someone: "Go, he is waiting for you -- on my dying word he is standing
there. Go, you fool!"
He saw how a woman -- she -- ran to the hay shed; but as a peasant
had met him it was no longer possible for him to turn back, and so he
When he entered the drawing-room everything seemed strange and
unnatural to him. He had risen that morning vigorous, determined to
fling it all aside, to forget it and not allow himself to think about
it. But without noticing how it occurred he had all the morning not
merely not interested himself in the work, but tried to avoid it. What
had formerly cheered him and been important was now insignificant.
Unconsciously he tried to free himself from business. It seemed to
him that he had to do so in order to think and to plan. And he freed
himself and remained alone. But as soon as he was alone he began to
wander about in the garden and the forest. And all those spots were
besmirched in his recollection by memories that gripped him. He felt
that he was walking in the garden and pretending to himself that he was
thinking out something, but that really he was not thinking out
anything, but insanely and unreasonably expecting her; expecting that
by some miracle she would be aware that he was expecting her, and would
come here at once and go somewhere where no one would see them, or
would come at night when there would be no moon, and no one, not even
she herself, would see -- on such a night she would come and he would
touch her body....
"There now, talking of breaking off when I wish to," he said to
himself. "yes, and that is having a clean healthy woman for one's
health sake! No, it seems one can't play with her like that. I
thought I had taken her, but it was she who took me; took me and does
not let me go. Why, I thought I was free, but I was not free and was
deceiving myself when I married. It was all nonsense -- fraud. From
the time I had her I experienced a new feeling, the real feeling of a
husband. Yes, I ought to have lived with her.
"One of two lives is possible for me: that which I began with
Liza: service, estate management, the child, and people's respect. If
that is life, it is necessary that she, Stepanida, should not be there.
She must be sent away, as I said, or destroyed so that she shall not
exist. And the other life -- is this: For me to take her away from
her husband, pay him money, disregard the shame and disgrace, and live
with her. But in that case it is necessary that Liza should not exist,
nor Mimi (the baby). No, that is not so, the baby does not matter, but
it is necessary that there should be no Liza -- that she should go away
-- that she should know, curse me, and go away. That she should know
that I have exchanged her for a peasant woman, that I am a deceiver and
a scoundrel! -- No, that is too terrible! It is impossible. But it
might happen," he went on thinking -- "it might happen that Liza might
fall ill and die. Die, and then everything would be capital.
"Capital! Oh, scoundrel! No, if someone must die it should be
Stepanida. If she were to die, how good it would be.
"Yes, that is how men come to poison or kill their wives or lovers.
Take a revolver and go and call her, and instead of embracing her,
shoot her in the breast and have done with it.
"Really she is -- a devil. Simply a devil. She has possessed
herself of me against my own will.
"Kill? Yes. there are only two ways out: to kill my wife or her.
For it is impossible to live like this. [Translator's footnote: At
this place the alternative ending, printed at the end of the story,
begins. A.M.] It is impossible! I must consider the matter and look
ahead. If things remain as they are what will happen? I shall again
be saying to myself that I do not wish it and that I will throw her
off, but it will be merely words; in the evening I shall be at her back
yard, and she will know it and will come out. And if people know of it
and tell my wife, or if I tell her myself -- for I can't lie -- I shall
not be able to live so. I cannot! People will know. They will all
know -- Parasha and the blacksmith. Well, is it possible to live so?
"Impossible! there are only two ways out: to kill my wife, or to
kill her. yes, or else...Ah, yes, there is a third way: to kill
myself," said he softly, and suddenly a shudder ran over his skin.
"Yes, kill myself, then I shall not need to kill them." He became
frightened, for he felt that only that way was possible. He had a
revolver. "Shall I really kill myself? It is something I never
thought of -- how strange it will be..."
He returned to his study and at once opened the cupboard where the
revolver lay, but before he had taken it out of its case his wife
entered the room.
He threw a newspaper over the revolver.
"Again the same!" said she aghast when she had looked at him.
"What is the same?"
"The same terrible expression that you had before and would not
explain to me. Jenya, dear one, tell me about it. I see that you are
suffering. Tell me and you will feel easier. Whatever it may be, it
will be better than for you to suffer so. Don't I know that it is
"You know? While..."
"Tell me, tell me, tell me. I won't let you go."
He smiled a piteous smile.
"Shall I? -- No, it is impossible. And there is nothing to tell."
Perhaps he might have told her, but at that moment the wet- nurse
entered to ask if she should go for a walk. Liza went out to dress the
"Then you will tell me? I will be back directly."
She never could forget the piteous smile with which he said this.
She went out.
Hurriedly, stealthily like a robber, he seized the revolver and
took it out of its case. It was loaded, yes, but long ago, and one
cartridge was missing.
"Well, how will it be?" He put it to his temple and hesitated a
little, but as soon as he remembered Stepanida -- his decision not to
see her, his struggle, temptation, fall, and renewed struggle -- he
shuddered with horror. "No, this is better," and he pulled the
When Liza ran into the room -- she had only had time to step down
from the balcony -- he was lying face downwards on the floor: black,
warm blood was gushing from the wound, and his corpse was twitching.
There was an inquest. No one could understand or explain the
suicide. It never even entered his uncle's head that its cause could
be anything in common with the confession Eugene had made to him two
Varvara Alexeevna assured them that she had always foreseen it. It
had been evident from his way of disputing. Neither Liza nor Mary
Pavlovna could at all understand why it had happened, but still they
did not believe what the doctors said, namely, that he was mentally
deranged -- a psychopath. They were quite unable to accept this, for
they knew he was saner than hundreds of their acquaintances.
And indeed if Eugene Irtenev was mentally deranged everyone is in
the same case; the most mentally deranged people are certainly those
who see in others indications of insanity they do not notice in
VARIATION OF THE CONCLUSION TO *THE DEVIL*
"To kill, yes. there are only two ways out: to kill my wife, or
to kill her. For it is impossible to live like this," said he to
himself, and going up to the table he took from it a revolver and,
having examined it -- one cartridge was wanting -- he put it in his
"My God! What am I doing?" he suddenly exclaimed, and folding his
hands he began to pray.
"O God, help me and deliver me! Thou knowest that I do not desire
evil, but by myself am powerless. Help me," said he, making the sign
of the cross on his breast before the icon.
"Yes, I can control myself. I will go out, walk about and think
He went to the entrance-hall, put on his overcoat and went out onto
the porch. Unconsciously his steps took him past the garden along the
field path to the outlying farmstead. There the thrashing machine was
still droning and the cries of the driver lads were heard. He entered
the barn. She was there. He saw her at once. She was raking up the
corn, and on seeing him she ran briskly and merrily about, with
laughing eyes, raking up the scattered corn with agility. eugene could
not help watching her though he did not wish to do so. He only
recollected himself when she was no longer in sight. The clerk
informed him that they were now finishing thrashing the corn that had
been beaten down -- that was why it was going slower and the output was
less. Eugene went up to the drum, which occasionally gave a knock as
sheaves not evenly fed in passed under it, and he asked the clerk if
there were many such sheaves of beaten-down corn.
"There will be five cartloads of it."
"Then look here..." began Eugene, but he did not finish the
sentence. She had gone close up to the drum and was raking the corn
from under it, and she scorched him with her laughing eyes. That look
spoke of a merry, careless love between them, of the fact that she knew
he wanted her and had come to her shed, and that she as always was
ready to live and be merry with him regardless of all conditions or
consequences. Eugene felt himself to be in her power but did not wish
He remembered his prayer and tried to repeat it. He began saying
it to himself, but at once felt that it was useless. A single thought
now engrossed him entirely: how to arrange a meeting with her so that
the others should not notice it.
"If we finish this lot today, are we to start on a fresh stack or
leave it till tomorrow?" asked the clerk.
"Yes, yes," replied Eugene, involuntarily following her to the heap
to which with the other women she was raking the corn.
"But can I really not master myself?" said he to himself. "Have I
really perished? O God! But there is not God. There is only a devil.
And it is she. She has possessed me. But I won't, I won't! A devil,
yes, a devil."
Again he went up to her, drew the revolver from his pocket and shot
her, once, twice, thrice, in the back. She ran a few steps and fell on
the heap of corn.
"My God, my God! What is that?" cried the women.
"No, it was not an accident. I killed her on purpose," cried
Eugene. "Send for the police-officer."
He went home and went to his study and locked himself in, without
speaking to his wife.
"Do not come to me," he cried to her through the door. "You will
know all about it."
An hour later he rang, and bade the man-servant who answered the
bell: "Go and find out whether Stepanida is alive."
The servant already knew all about it, and told him she had died an
"Well, all right. Now leave me alone. When the police officer or
the magistrate comes, let me know."
The police officer and magistrate arrived next morning, and Eugene,
having bidden his wife and baby farewell, was taken to prison.
He was tried. It was during the early days of trial by jury, and
the verdict was one of temporary insanity, and he was sentenced only to
perform church penance.
He had been kept in prison for nine months and was then confined in
a monastery for one month.
He had begun to drink while still in prison, continued to do so in
the monastery, and returned home an enfeebled, irresponsible drunkard.
Varvara Alexeevna assured them that she had always predicted this.
it was, she said, evident from the way he disputed. Neither Liza nor
Mary Pavlovna could understand how the affair had happened, but for all
that, they did not believe what the doctors said, namely, that he was
mentally deranged -- a psychopath. They could not accept that, for the
knew that he was saner than hundreds of their acquaintances.
And indeed, if Eugene Iretnev was mentally deranged when he
committed this crime, then everyone is similarly insane. The most
mentally deranged people are certainly those who see in others
indications of insanity they do not notice in themselves.