Two Hussars by Lyof N. Tolstoi
Translator: Nathan Haskell Dole
Jomini, ay, Jomini,
But not a single word of vodka.
At the very beginning of this century, when there were no railways, no
macadamized roads, no gas or stearine candles, no low and springy sofas, no
unvarnished furniture, no disillusionized young men with eye-glasses, no
women philosophers of liberal tendencies, no dear Camilles, such as our
time has produced in abundance; in those naïve days when travellers made
the journey from Moscow to Petersburg by stage or carriage, and took with
them a whole kitchen of domestic preparations, and travelled for a week,
night and day, over soft roads, muddy or dusty as the case might be, pinned
their faith to Pozharsky cutlets, Valdaï bluebells, and pretzels; when
during the long autumn evenings tallow candles burned till they had to be
snuffed, and cast their rays on family circles of twenty or thirty people
(at balls, wax or spermaceti candles were set up in candelabra); when
furniture was placed with stiff precision; when our fathers were still
young, not merely by the absence of wrinkles and gray hair, but fought
duels for women, and were fain to rush from one end of a room to the other
to pick up a handkerchief dropped accidentally or otherwise, and our
mothers wore short waists and huge sleeves, and decided family affairs by
the drawing of lots; when charming Camilles avoided the light of day; in
the naïve period of Masonic lodges, of Martinists, and of the Tugendbund;
at the time of the Miloradovitches, Davuidofs, and Pushkins,—a meeting of
landed proprietors took place in the governmental city of K., and the
election of the college of nobles was drawing to a close.
"Well, all right, it's all the same, be it in the hall," said a young
officer dressed in a shuba, and wearing a hussar's helmet, as he dismounted
from a travelling sledge in front of the best hotel of the city of K.
"A great meeting, little father, your excellency,—a tremendous crowd,"
said the hall-boy, who had already learned from the officer's man that it
was Count Turbin, and therefore honored him with the address of "your
excellency." "Madame Afrimova and her daughters have expressed the
intention of going away this evening; you can be accommodated with their
room as soon as it is vacated,—No. 11," the hall-boy went on to say,
noiselessly showing the count the way, and constantly turning round to look
In the sitting-room, at a small table under a blackened full-length
portrait of the Emperor Alexander, sat a number of men, evidently belonging
to the local aristocracy, drinking champagne; and on one side were some
travelling merchants in blue shubas.
The count entered the room, and calling Blücher, a huge gray boarhound that
accompanied him, he threw off his cloak, the collar of which was covered
with frost, and, after ordering vodka, sat down at the table in a short
blue-satin jacket, and entered into conversation with the gentlemen sitting
there. The latter, attracted toward the new-comer by his handsome and frank
exterior, offered him a glass of champagne.
The count had begun to drink his glass of vodka; but now he also ordered a
bottle of champagne, in order to return the courtesy of his new companions.
The driver came in to ask for vodka-money.
"Sashka," cried the count, "give it to him."
The driver went out with Sashka, but quickly returned, holding the money in
"What! little father, 'slency, is that right? I did my best for you. You
promised me a half-ruble, and you have only given me a quarter!"
"Sashka, give him a ruble."
Sashka, hanging down his head, gazed at the driver's feet.
"He will have enough," said he in his deep voice. "Besides, I haven't any
The count drew from his pocket-book the two solitary blue notes which
were in it, and gave one to the driver, who kissed his hand, and went off.
"I have come to the end," said the count, "my last five rubles."
"True hussar style, count," said one of the nobles, whose mustaches, voice,
and a certain energetic freedom in the use of his legs, proclaimed him,
beyond a peradventure, to be a retired cavalryman. "Are you going to spend
some time here, count?"
"I must have some money if I stay, otherwise I should not be very likely
to. Besides, there are no spare rooms, the Devil take it, in this cursed
"I beg of you, count," pursued the cavalryman, "wouldn't you like to come
in with me? My room is No. 7. If you wouldn't object to sleep there for the
present. We shall be here three days at least. To-day I was at the
marshal's: how glad he would be to see you!"
"That's right, count, stay with us," urged another of the table companions,
a handsome young man. "What is your hurry? And besides, this happens only
once in three years,—these elections. We might get a glimpse of some of
our girls, count!"
"Sashka, get me some clean linen. I am going to have a bath," said the
count, rising. "And then we will see; perhaps I may decide to pay my
respects to the marshal."
Then he called the waiter, and said something to him in an undertone. The
waiter replied, with a laugh, "That is within human possibility," and went
"Well, then, little father, I have given orders to have my trunk taken to
your room," cried the count, as he went out of the door.
"I shall consider it a favor: it delights me," replied the cavalryman as he
hastened to the door, and cried, "No.7; don't forget!"
When the count was out of hearing, the cavalryman returned to his place,
and drawing his chair nearer to the chinovnik, and looking him straight
in his smiling eyes, said,—
"Well, he's the very one."
"I tell you that he's that very same hussar duellist,—let me see, the
famous Turbin. He knew me. I'll wager he knew me. I assure you, at Lebedyan
he and I were on a spree for three weeks, and were never sober once. That
was when I lost my remount. There was one little affair at that time,—we
were engaged in it together. Ah, he is a gay lad! isn't he, though?"
"Indeed he is. What pleasant manners he has! There's no fault to be found
with him," replied the handsome young man. "How quickly we became
acquainted!... He isn't more than twenty-two, is he?"
"He certainly would not seem so, would he?... But he's really more than
that. Well, now you want to know who he is, don't you? Who carried off
Megunova? He did. He killed Sablin. He kicked Matnyef out of the window. He
'did' Prince Nesterof out of three hundred thousand rubles. He's a regular
madcap. You ought to know him,—a gambler, duellist, seducer, but a
whole-souled fellow, a genuine hussar. We got talked about a good deal, but
if any one really understood what it meant to be a genuine hussar! Those
were great times."
And the cavalryman began to tell his comrade of a drinking-bout with the
count, which had never taken place, nor could have taken place. It could
not have taken place, first, because he had never seen the count before,
and had retired from the service two years before the count had entered it;
and secondly, because this cavalryman had never served in the cavalry, but
had served four years as a very insignificant yunker in the Bielevsky
regiment; and just as soon as he was promoted to be ensign, he retired.
But ten years before he had received an inheritance, and actually went to
Lebedyan; and there he spent seven hundred rubles with the cavalry
officers, and had had made for him an uhlan's uniform with orange lapels,
with the intention of entering the uhlans. His thought of entering the
cavalry, and his three weeks spent with the officers at Lebedyan, made the
very happiest and most brilliant period of his life; so that he began to
transfer his thought into a reality. Then, as he added remembrance to it,
he began actually to believe in his military past,—which did not prevent
him from being a worthy man through his kindness of heart and uprightness.
"Yes, any one who has never served in the cavalry," he went on to say,
"will never understand us fellows."
He sat astride of his chair, and, thrusting out his lower lip, went on in a
deep voice, "It happens you are riding along in front of the battalion. A
devil is under you, not a horse, prancing along; thus you sit on this
perfect devil. The battalion commander comes along. 'Lieutenant,' says he,
'I beg of you—your service is absolutely indispensable. You must lead the
battalion for the parade.' Very well, and so it goes. You look around, you
give a shout, you lead the brave fellows who are under your command. Ah!
the deuce take it! 'twas a glorious time!"
The count came back from the bath, all ruddy, and with his hair wet, and
went directly to No. 7, where the cavalryman was already sitting in his
dressing-gown, with his pipe, and thinking with delight and some little
anxiety of the good fortune that had befallen him in sharing his room with
the famous Turbin. "Well, now," the thought came into his head, "suppose he
should take me, and strip me naked, and carry me outside the town limits,
and set me down in the snow, ... or smear me with tar ... or simply ...
But, no: he would not do such a thing to a comrade," he said, trying to
"Sashka, give Blücher something to eat," cried the count.
Sashka made his appearance. He had been drinking glasses of vodka ever
since his arrival, and was beginning to be genuinely tipsy.
"You have not been able to control yourself. You have been getting drunk,
canaillya!... Feed Blücher."
"It won't kill him to fast.... You see, ... he's so plump," replied Sashka,
caressing the dog.
"Now, none of your impudence. Go, and feed him."
"All you care for is to have your dog fat; but if a man drinks a little
glass, then you pitch into him."
"Hey! I'll strike you," cried the count with a voice that made the
window-panes rattle, and even scared the cavalryman somewhat.
"You would better ask if Sashka has had any thing to eat to-day. All
right, strike away, if a dog is more to you than a man," continued Sashka.
But at that instant he received such a violent blow of the fist across the
face that he staggered, struck his head against the partition, and,
clutching his nose, leaped through the door, and threw himself down on a
bench in the corridor.
"He has broken my teeth," he growled, wiping his bloody nose with one hand,
and with the other scratching Blücher's back, as the dog licked him. "He
has broken my teeth, Blüchka; and yet he is my count, and I would jump into
the fire for him, that's a fact. Because he's my count, do you understand,
Blüchka? And do you want something to eat?"
After lying there a while, he got up, gave the dog his dinner, and, almost
sobered, went to serve his master, and get him his tea.
"You would simply offend me," said the cavalryman timidly, standing in
front of the count, who was lying on the bed with his feet propped against
the partition. "Now, you see, I am an old soldier and comrade, I may say;
instead of letting you borrow of any one else, it would give me great
pleasure to let you have two hundred rubles. I haven't them with me
now,—only a hundred,—but I can get the rest to-day; don't refuse, you
would simply offend me, count!"
"Thanks, little father," said Turbin, instantly perceiving what sort of
relationship would exist between them, and slapping the cavalryman on the
shoulder. "Thanks. Well, then, we'll go to the ball if you say so. But now
what shall we do? Tell me whom you have in your city: any pretty girls?
anybody ready for a spree? Who plays cards?"
The cavalryman explained that there would be a crowd of pretty girls at the
ball; that the police commissioner, Kolkof, who had just been
re-elected, was the greatest hand for sprees, only he lacked the spirit of
a genuine hussar, but still was a first-rate fellow; that Ilyushka's chorus
of gypsies had been singing at K. ever since the elections began; that
Stioshka was the soloist, and that after the marshal's reception
everybody went there nowadays. And the stakes were pretty high. "Lukhnof, a
visitor here," he said, "is sweeping in the money; and Ilyin, a cornet of
uhlans, who rooms in No. 8, has already lost a pile. The game has already
begun there. They play there every evening; and he's a wonderfully fine
young fellow, I tell you, count, this Ilyin is. There's nothing mean about
him—he'd give you his last shirt."
"Then let us go to his room. We will see what sort of men you have," said
"Come on! come on! they will be mighty glad."
Ilyin, the cornet of uhlans, had not long been awake. The evening before,
he had sat down at the gambling-table at eight o'clock, and lost for
fifteen consecutive hours, till eleven o'clock that day. He had lost a
great amount, but exactly how much he did not know, because he had had
three thousand rubles of his money, and fifteen thousand belonging to the
treasury, which he had long ago mixed up with his own, and he did not dare
to settle his accounts lest his anticipations that he had made too great
inroads on the public money should be confirmed.
He went to sleep about noon, and slept that heavy, dreamless sleep,
peculiar to very young men who have been losing heavily. Waking at six,
about the time that Count Turbin had arrived at the hotel, and seeing cards
and chalk and soiled tables scattered around him in confusion in the room,
he remembered with horror the evening's games, and the last card, a knave,
which had lost him five hundred rubles; but, still scarcely believing in
the reality, he drew out from under his pillow his money, and began to
count it. He recognized a few notes which, with corners turned down and
indorsements, had gone from hand to hand around the table; he remembered
all the particulars. He had lost his own three thousand rubles, and
twenty-five hundred belonging to the treasury had disappeared.
The uhlan had been playing for four nights in succession.
He had come from Moscow, where the public money had been intrusted to him.
At K. the post-superintendent had detained him under the pretext that there
were no post-horses, but in reality in accordance with his agreement with
the hotel-keeper to detain all visitors for a day.
The uhlan, who was a gay young fellow, and had just received from his
parent three thousand rubles for his military equipment, was glad to spend
a few days in the city of K. during the elections, and counted on having a
He knew a landed proprietor whose family lived there, and he was preparing
to call upon him and pay his addresses to his daughter, when the cavalryman
appeared, and made his acquaintance. That very evening, without malice
prepense, he took him down into the parlor, and introduced him to his
friends, Lukhnof and several other gamblers. From that time, the uhlan had
kept steadily at gaming, and not only had not called on the proprietor, but
had not thought of inquiring further for horses, and for four days had not
left his room.
After he had dressed, and taken his tea, he went to the window. He felt an
inclination to go out so as to dispel the importunate recollections of the
game. He put on his cloak, and went into the street.
The sun had just sunk behind the white houses with their red roofs. It was
already twilight. It was warm. The snow was softly falling in big, damp
flakes, in the muddy streets. His mind suddenly became filled with
unendurable melancholy at the thought that he had spent all that day in
sleep, and now the day was done.
"This day which has gone, will never come back again," he said to himself.
"I have wasted my youth," he suddenly exclaimed, not because he really felt
that he had wasted his youth,—he did not think about it at all,—but
simply this phrase came into his head.
"What shall I do now?" he reasoned; "borrow of some one, and go away?"
A lady was passing along the sidewalk.
"What a stupid woman!" he said to himself for some reason.
"There's no one I can borrow of. I have wasted my youth."
He came to a block of stores. A merchant in a fox-skin shuba was standing
at the door of his shop, and inviting custom.
"If I hadn't taken the eight, I should have won."
A little old beggar-woman followed him, snivelling.
"I have no one to borrow of."
A gentleman in a bear-skin shuba passed him. A policeman was standing on
"What can I do that will make sensation? Fire a pistol at them? No! That
would be stupid. I have wasted my youth. Akh! what a splendid harness
that is hanging in that shop! I should like to be riding behind a
troïka!... Ekh! you fine fellows! I am going back. Lukhnof will be
there pretty soon, and we'll have a game."
He returned to the hotel, and once more counted his money. No, he was not
mistaken the first time; twenty-five hundred rubles of public money were
missing, just as before.
"I will put up twenty-five rubles first; the next time, a quarter stake;
then on seven, on fifteen, on thirty, and on sixty ... three thousand. I
will buy that harness, and start. He won't give me any odds, the villain!
I have wasted my youth!"
This was what was passing through the uhlan's mind just as Lukhnof himself
came into the room.
"Well, have you been up long, Mikháïlo Vasílyitch?" inquired Lukhnof,
deliberately removing from his thin nose his gold eye-glasses, and
carefully wiping them with a red silk handkerchief.
"No, only just this minute. I had a splendid sleep!"
"A new hussar has just come. He is staying with Zavalshevsky. Had you heard
"No, I hadn't. Well, no one seems to be here yet. I believe they have gone
to call on Priakhin. They'll be here very soon."
In fact, in a short time there came into the room an officer of the
garrison, who was always hovering round Lukhnof; a Greek merchant with a
huge hooked nose, cinnamon complexion, and deep-set black eyes; a stout,
puffy proprietor, a brandy-distiller who gambled all night long, and always
made his stakes on the basis of half a ruble. All of these wished to begin
playing as promptly as possible, but the more daring players said nothing
about it; Lukhnof, in particular, with perfect equanimity, told stories of
rascality in Moscow.
"Just think of it," said he, "Moscow, the metropolis, the capital; and
there they go out at night with crooks, dressed like demons; and they scare
the stupid people, and rob pedestrians, and that is the end of it. Do the
police notice it? No! It is astonishing!"
The uhlan listened attentively to the tales of these highwaymen, but
finally got up and unobtrusively ordered cards to be brought. The stout
proprietor was the first to notice it.
"Well, gentlemen, we are wasting golden moments. To work, let us to work!"
"Yes, you won by the half-ruble last evening, and so you like it,"
exclaimed the Greek.
"It's a good time to begin," said the garrison officer.
Ilyin looked at Lukhnof. Lukhnof, returning his gaze, went on calmly with
his story of the robbers who dressed themselves up like devils. "Will you
start the bank?" asked the uhlan.
"Isn't it rather early?"
"Byélof!" cried the uhlan, reddening for some reason or other; "bring me
something to eat.... I haven't had any dinner to-day, gentlemen. Bring some
champagne, and distribute the cards."
A this moment, the count and Zavalshevsky entered. It proved that Turbin
and Ilyin were in the same division. They immediately struck up an
acquaintance, drank a glass of champagne, clinking their glasses together,
and in five minutes were calling each other "thou."
It was evident that Ilyin made a very pleasant impression on the count. The
count smiled whenever he looked at him, and was amused at his freshness.
"What a fine young uhlan!" he said, "what a mustache! what a splendid
Ilyin's upper lip bore the first down of a mustache, that was as yet almost
"You were preparing to play, were you not?" asked the count. "Well, I
should like to win from you, Ilyin. I think that you must be a master," he
"Yes, we were just starting in," replied Lukhnof, opening a pack of
cards.... "Aren't you going to join us, count?"
"No, I won't to-night. If I did there wouldn't be any thing left of any of
you! When I take a hand I always break the bank. But I haven't any money
just now. I lost at Volotchok, at the station-house. It was by some sort of
infantry-man who wore rings; what a cheat he was! and he cleaned me out
"Were you long there at the station?" asked Ilyin.
"I staid there twenty-two hours. I shall not forget that station, curse it!
and the superintendent won't forget it either."
"I got there, you see; the superintendent comes out, rascally face, the
liar! 'There are no horses,' said he. Well, now I must tell you, I have
made a rule in such cases: when there are no horses, I keep on my shuba,
and go straight to the superintendent's room,—not the waiting-room, mind
you, but the superintendent's own room,—and I have all the windows and
doors opened, as though it were stifling. Well, that's what I did here.
Cold! you remember how cold it has been this last month; twenty degrees
below. The superintendent began to remonstrate. I knock his teeth in for
him. There was some old woman there; and some young girls and
peasant-women set up a piping, were going to seize their pots and fly
to the village.... I go to the door, and say, 'Let me have horses, and I'll
go away: if you don't, I won't let you out, I'll freeze you all to death.'"
"What an admirable way!" said the puffy proprietor, bursting out into a
laugh. "That's the way one would freeze out cockroaches."
"But I wasn't sufficiently on my guard: the superintendent and all his
women managed to get out and run away. Only the old woman remained on the
oven as my hostage. She kept sniffing, and offering prayers to God. Then we
entered into negotiations. The superintendent came back, and, standing at a
distance, tried to persuade me to let the old woman go. But I set Blücher
on him: Blücher is a magnificent dog to take care of superintendents. Even
then the rascal did not let me have horses till the next morning. And then
came along that footpad! I went into the next room, and began to play. Have
you seen Blücher?—Blücher! Fiu!" Blücher came running in. The players
received him with flattering attention, although it was evident that they
were anxious to get to work at entirely different matters.
"By the way, gentlemen, why don't you begin your game? I beg of you, don't
let me interfere with you. You see I am a chatterbox," said Turbin.
"Whether you love or not, 'tis an excellent thing."
Lukhnof took two candles, brought out a huge dark-colored pocket-book full
of money; slowly, as though performing some sacrament, opened it on the
table; took out two one-hundred-ruble notes, and laid them on the cards.
"There, just the same as last evening; the bank begins with two hundred,"
said he, adjusting his glasses, and opening a pack of cards.
"Very well," said Ilyin, not glancing at him, or interrupting his
conversation with Turbin.
The game began. Lukhnof kept the bank with mechanical regularity,
occasionally pausing, and deliberately making notes, or looking sternly
over his glasses, and saying in a weak voice, "Throw."
The stout proprietor talked louder than the rest, making various
calculations at the top of his voice, while he wet his clumsy fingers and
dog-eared his cards.
The garrison officer silently wrote in a fine hand his account on a card,
turned down small corners, pressing them against the table.
The Greek sat next the banker, attentively following the game with his deep
black eyes, as though waiting for something.
Zavalshevsky, as he stood by the table, would suddenly become all of a
tremble, draw from his trousers-pocket a blue note or a red, lay a card
on it, pound on it with his palm, and say, "Bring me luck, little seven!"
then he would bite his mustache, change from one leg to the other, and be
in a continual state of excitement until the card came out.
Ilyin, who had been eating veal and cucumbers placed near him on the
haircloth sofa, briskly wiped his hands on his coat, and began to put down
one card after another.
Turbin, who had taken his seat at first on the sofa, immediately noticed
that something was wrong. Lukhnof did not look at the uhlan, or say any
thing to him; but occasionally his eyes for an instant rested on the
uhlan's hands. The most of his cards lost.
"If I could only trump that little card," exclaimed Lukhnof in reference to
one of the stout proprietor's cards. He was still making half-ruble wagers.
"Trump Ilyin's instead: what would be the use of trumping mine?" replied
And, in point of fact, Ilyin's cards were trumped oftener than the others'.
He nervously tore up his losing card under the table, and with trembling
hands chose another.
Turbin arose from the sofa, and asked the Greek to give him his place next
the banker. The Greek changed places; and the count, taking his chair, and
not moving his eyes, began to watch Lukhnof's hands attentively.
"Ilyin," said he suddenly in his ordinary voice, which, entirely contrary
to his desire, drowned out the others, "why do you stick to those routine
cards? You don't know how to play!"
"Supposing I don't, it's all the same."
"You'll lose that way surely. Let me play against the bank for you."
"No, excuse me, I beg of you. I'm always this way. Play for yourself if you
"I have told you that I am not going to play. But I should like to play for
you. I hate to see you losing so."
"Ah, well! you see it's my luck."
The count said nothing more, and leaning on his elbow began once more to
watch the banker's hand just as attentively as before.
"Shameful!" he suddenly cried in a loud voice, dwelling on the word.
Lukhnof glared at him.
"Shameful, shameful!" he repeated still louder, staring straight into
The game continued.
"That is not right!" said Turbin again, as Lukhnof trumped one of Ilyin's
"What displeases you, count?" politely asked the banker with an air of
"Because you give Ilyin a simplum, and turn down your corners. That's what
Lukhnof made a slight motion with his shoulders and brows, signifying that
he was resigned to any fate, and then he went on with the game.
"Blücher, fiu!" cried the count, rising; "over with him!" he added
quickly. Blücher, bumping against the sofa with his back, and almost
knocking the garrison officer from his feet, came leaping toward his
master, looking at every one and wagging his tail as though he would ask,
"Who is misbehaving here, hey?"
Lukhnof laid down the cards, and moved his chair away. "This is no way to
play," said he. "I detest dogs. What kind of a game can you have if a whole
pack of hounds is to be brought in?"
"Especially that kind of dog: they are called blood-suckers, if I am not
mistaken," suggested the garrison officer.
"Well, are we to play or not, Mikháïlo Vasílyitch?" asked Lukhnof,
addressing the uhlan.
"Don't bother us, count, I beg of you," said Ilyin, turning to Turbin.
"Come here for a moment," said Turbin, taking Ilyin's arm, and drawing him
into the next room.
There the count's words were perfectly audible, though he spoke in his
ordinary tone. But his voice was so powerful that it could always be heard
three rooms off.
"Are you beside yourself? Don't you see that that man with the glasses is a
cheat of the worst order?"
"Hey? Nonsense! Be careful what you say."
"No nonsense! but quit it, I tell you. It makes no difference to me.
Another time I myself would have plucked you; but now I am sorry to see you
ruining yourself. Have you any public money left?"
"No. What makes you think so about him?"
"Brother, I have been over this same road, and I know the ways of these
professional gamblers. I tell you that the man in the glasses is a cheat.
Quit, please. I ask you as a comrade."
"All right; I'll have just one more hand, and then have done with it."
"I know what that 'one more' means: very well, we will see."
They returned to the gaming-table. In one deal he laid down so many cards,
and they were trumped so badly, that he lost a large amount.
Turbin rested his hand in the middle of the table, and said, "That's
enough! now let us be going."
"No, I can't go yet; leave me, please," said Ilyin in vexation, shuffling
the bent cards and not looking at Turbin.
"All right! the Devil be with you! Lose all you've got, if that please you;
but it's time for me to be going.—Come, Zavalshevsky, let us go to the
And they went out. No one spoke, and Lukhnof did not make the bank until
the noise of their feet and of Blücher's paws had died away down the
"That's a madcap," said the proprietor, smiling.
"Well, now he won't bother us any more," said the garrison officer in a
And the game went on.
The band, composed of the marshal's domestic serfs, were stationed in the
butler's pantry, which had been put in order on account of the ball, and,
having turned up the sleeves of their coats, had begun at the signal of
their leader to play the ancient polonaise "Aleksandr, Yelisaviéta;" and
under the soft, brilliant light of the wax candles, the couples began to
move in tripping measure through the great ballroom; a governor-general of
Catherine's time, with a star, taking out the gaunt wife of the marshal,
the marshal with the governor's wife, and so on through all the hierarchy
of the government in various combinations and variations,—when
Zavalshevsky in a blue coat with a huge collar, and epaulets on his
shoulders, and wearing stockings and pumps, and exhaling about him an odor
of jasmine with which he had plentifully drenched his mustaches, the
facings of his coat, and his handkerchief, entered with the handsome count,
who wore tight-fitting blue trousers and a red pelisse embroidered with
gold, and wearing on his breast the cross of Vladímir and a medal of 1812.
The count was of medium height, but had an extremely handsome figure. His
clear blue eyes of remarkable brilliancy, and dark hair which was rather
long and fell in thick ringlets, gave his beauty a peculiar character.
The count's presence at the ball was not unexpected. The handsome young
man who had seen him at the hotel had already spoken of him to the marshal.
The impressions made by this announcement were of various kinds, but on the
whole were not altogether pleasant.
"I suppose this young man will turn us into ridicule," was what the old
women and the men said to themselves.
"Suppose he should run off with me," was what the wives and young ladies
thought, with more or less apprehension.
As soon as the polonaise was finished, and the couples had made each other
low bows, once more the women formed little groups by themselves, and the
men by themselves. Zavalshevsky, proud and happy, led the count up to the
The marshal's wife, conscious of a certain inward trepidation lest this
hussar should make her the cause of some scandal before everybody, said
proudly and scornfully, as she turned away, "Very glad to see you. I hope
that you will dance." And then she looked at the count mistrustfully with
an expression that seemed to say, "Now, if you insult any woman, then you
are a perfect scoundrel after this."
The count, however, quickly overcame this prejudice by his amiability, his
politeness, and his handsome jovial appearance; so that in five minutes the
expression on the face of the marshal's wife plainly declared to all who
stood around her, "I know how to manage all these men. He immediately
realized whom he was talking with. And now he will be charming to me all
the rest of the evening."
Moreover, just then the governor, who had known his father, came up to the
count, and very graciously drew him to one side, and entered into
conversation with him, which still more pleased the fashionable society of
the town, and raised the count in their estimation.
Then Zavalshevsky presented the count to his sister, a plump young widow,
who, ever since the count entered the room, had kept her big black eyes
fastened upon him.
The count asked the little widow for the waltz which at that moment the
musicians had struck up, and it was his artistic dancing that conquered the
last vestiges of the popular prejudice.
"Ah, he's a master at dancing!" said a stout lady, following the legs in
blue trousers which were flashing through the ballroom, and mentally
counting, "One, two, three; one, two, three,—he's a master."
"How gracefully he moves his feet! how gracefully!" said another guest, who
did not stand very high in the governmental society. "How does he manage to
not hit any one with his spurs? Wonderful, very skilful!"
The count, by his skill in dancing, eclipsed the three best dancers of the
city. These were, a governor's aide, a tall albino, who was famous for his
rapid dancing and because he held the lady pressed very close to his
breast; secondly, the cavalryman, who was famous for his graceful swaying
during the waltz, and for his frequent but light tapping with his heels;
and thirdly, a civilian of whom everybody said, that, though he was not
very strong-minded, yet he was an admirable dancer and the life of all
In point of fact, this civilian from the beginning to the end of a ball
invariably invited all the ladies in the order in which they sat, did not
cease for a moment to dance, and only occasionally paused to wipe his
weary but still radiant face with his cambric handkerchief, which would
become wet through.
The count had surpassed them all, and had danced with the three principal
ladies,—with the stout one, who was rich, handsome, and stupid; with the
middle-sized one, who was lean, and not particularly good-looking, but
handsomely dressed; and with the little one, who was not pretty, but very
He had danced also with others,—with all the pretty women, and there were
many pretty women there.
But the little widow, Zavalshevsky's sister, pleased the count more than
all the rest; with her he danced a quadrille and a schottische and a
At first, when they took their places for the quadrille, he overwhelmed her
with compliments, comparing her to Venus and Diana, and to a rosebush, and
to some other flower besides.
To all these amenities the little widow only bent her white neck, modestly
dropped her eyes, and, looking at her white muslin dress, changed her fan
from one hand to the other.
When, at last, she said, "This is too much, count; you are jesting," etc.,
her voice, which was rather guttural, betrayed such naïve simplicity of
heart and amusing naturalness that the count, as he looked at her, actually
compared her, not to a flower or to a rosebush, but to some kind of a
pinkish-white wild-flower, exuberant and odorless, growing alone on a
virgin snow-drift in some far, far-distant land.
Such a strange impression was made upon the count by this union of
naïveté and unconventionality together with fresh beauty, that several
times, in the pauses of the conversation, when he looked silently into her
eyes or contemplated the loveliness of her arms and neck, the desire came
over him with such vehemence to take her into his arms and kiss her again
and again, that he was really obliged to restrain himself.
The little widow was quite satisfied with the impression which she
perceived that she had made; but there was something in the count's
behavior that began to disquiet her, and fill her with apprehensions,
though the young hussar was not only flatteringly amiable, but even, to an
extravagant degree, deferential in his treatment of her.
He ran to get orgeat for her, picked up her handkerchief, snatched a chair
from the hands of a scrofulous young proprietor, who was also anxious to
pay her attention, and who was not quick enough. But perceiving that these
assiduities, which were fashionable at that period, had little effect in
making the lady well-disposed, he began to amuse her by telling her
ridiculous anecdotes: he assured her that he was ready at a moment's notice
to stand on his head, or to crow like a cock, or to jump out of the window,
or to fling himself into a hole in the ice.
This procedure was a brilliant success: the little widow became very gay;
she rippled with laughter, displaying her marvellous white teeth, and
became entirely satisfied with her cavalier. The count each moment grew
more and more enchanted with her, so that at the end of the quadrille he
was really in love with her.
After the quadrille, when she was approached by her former admirer, a young
man of eighteen, the son of a very rich proprietor, the same scrofulous
young man from whom Turbin had snatched away the chair, she received him
with perfect coolness, and not one-tenth part of the constraint was
noticeable in her which she felt when she was with the count.
"You are very kind," she said, all the time gazing at Turbin's back, and
unconsciously reckoning how many yards of gold-lace were used for his
whole jacket. "You are very kind; you promised to come to take me for a
walk, and to bring me some comfits."
"Well, I did come, Anna Fedorovna, but you weren't at home, and I left the
very best comfits for you," said the young man, in a voice that was very
thin, considering his height.
"You always are provided with excuses; I don't need your comfits. Please do
"I begin to see, Anna Fedorovna, how you have changed toward me, and I know
why. But it is not right," he added, but without finishing his remark,
evidently owing to some powerful interior emotion, which caused his lips to
Anna Fedorovna did not heed him, and continued to follow Turbin with her
eyes. The marshal, at whose house the ball was given,—a big, stout old
man, who had lost his teeth,—came up to the count, and, taking him by the
arm, invited him into his library to smoke and drink if he so desired.
As soon as Turbin disappeared, Anna Fedorovna felt that there was
absolutely nothing for her to do in the ballroom, and slipping her hand
through the arm of a dried-up old maid, who was a friend of hers, went with
her into the dressing-room.
"Well, what do you think of him? Is he nice?" asked the old maid.
"Only it's terrible—the way he follows you up!" said Anna Fedorovna, going
to the mirror, and contemplating herself in it.
Her face was aglow, her eyes were full of mischief, her color was
heightened; then suddenly imitating one of the ballet-dancers whom she had
seen during election time, she pirouetted round on one toe, and, laughing
her guttural but sweet laugh, she leaped up in the air, crossing her knees.
"What a man he is! he even asked me for a souvenir," she confided to her
friend. "But he will ne-e-ver get one," she said, singing the last words,
and lifting one finger in the lilac-colored glove that reached to her
In the library where Turbin was conducted by the marshal, stood various
kinds of vodka, liqueurs, edibles, and champagne. In a cloud of
tobacco-smoke the nobility were sitting, or walking up and down, talking
about the elections.
"When the whole of the high nobility of our district has honored him with
an election," exclaimed the newly elected isprávnik who was already
tolerably tipsy, "he certainly ought not to fail in his duties toward
society in general."
The conversation was interrupted by the count's coming. All were presented
to him, and the isprávnik especially pressed his hand long between both of
his, and asked him several times to go with him after the ball to the new
tavern, where he would treat the gentlemen of the nobility, and where they
would hear the gypsies sing.
The count accepted his invitation, and drank with him several glasses of
"Why aren't you dancing, gentlemen?" he asked, as he was about to leave the
"We aren't dancers," replied the isprávnik, laughing. "We prefer the wine,
count; and besides, all these young ladies have grown up under my eyes,
count. But still, I do sometimes take part in a schottische, count. I can
do it, count."
"Come on then for a while," said Turbin. "Let us have some sport before we
go to the gypsies."
"What say you, gentlemen? Let us come! Let us delight our host!"
And the three gentlemen who, since the beginning of the ball, had been
drinking in the library and had very red faces, began to draw on their
gloves, some of black kid, another of knit silk, and were just going with
the count to the ballroom, when they were detained by the scrofulous young
man, who, pale as a sheet, and scarcely able to refrain from tears, came
straight up to Turbin.
"You have an idea, because you are a count, you can run into people as if
you were at a fair," said he, with difficulty drawing his breath; "hence it
Once more the stream of his speech was interrupted by the involuntary
trembling of his lips.
"What?" cried Turbin, frowning suddenly, "what?... You're a baby," he
cried, seizing him by the arm, and squeezing it so that the blood rushed to
the young man's head, not so much from vexation as from fright. "What is
it? Do you want to fight? If so, I am at your service."
Turbin had scarcely let go of his arm, which he had squeezed so powerfully,
when two nobles seized the young man by the sleeve, and carried him off
through a back door.
"What! have you lost your wits? You've surely been drinking too much. We
shall have to tell your papa. What's the matter with you?" they asked.
"No, I haven't been drinking; but he ran into me, and did not apologize.
He's a hog, that's what he is," whined the young man, now actually in
Nevertheless they paid no attention to him, but carried him off home.
"Never mind, count," said the isprávnik and Zavalshevsky assuringly. "He's
a mere child. They still whip him: he's only sixteen years old. It's hard
to tell what is to be done with him. What fly stung him? And his father is
such an honorable man! He's our candidate."
"Well, the Devil take him if he refuses"....
And the count returned to the ballroom, and, as gayly as before, danced the
schottische with the pretty little widow, and laughed heartily when he saw
the antics of the gentlemen who had come with him out of the library. There
was a general burst of merriment all through the ballroom when the
isprávnik tripped, and measured his length on the floor in the midst of the
Anna Fedorovna, while the count was in the library, went to her brother,
and, for the very reason of her conviction that she ought to pretend to
feel very little interest in the count, she began to question him.
"Who is this hussar that has been dancing with me? Tell me, brother."
The cavalryman explained, to the best of his ability, what a great man this
hussar was, and in addition he told his sister that the count had stopped
there simply because his money had been stolen on the route: he himself had
loaned him a hundred rubles, but that was not enough. Couldn't his sister
let him have two hundred more? Zavalshevsky asked her not to say any thing
about this to any one, and, above all, not to the count.
Anna Fedorovna promised to send the money the next day, and to keep it a
secret; but somehow or other, during the schottische, she had a terrible
desire to offer the count as much money as he needed.
She deliberated, blushed, and at last, mastering her confusion, thus
addressed herself to the task:—
"My brother told me, count, that you had met with a misfortune on the road,
and hadn't any money. Now, if you need some, wouldn't you take some of me?
I should be terribly glad."
But after she had thus spoken, Anna Fedorovna suddenly was overcome with
fright, and blushed. All the gayety had instantly vanished from the
"Your brother is a fool!" said he in a cutting tone. "You know, when a man
insults a man, then they fight a duel; but when a woman insults a man, then
what do they do? Do you know?"
Poor Anna Fedorovna blushed to her ears with confusion. She dropped her
eyes, and made no reply.
"They kiss the woman in public," said the count softly, bending over to
whisper in her ear. "Permit me, however, to kiss your little hand," he
added almost inaudibly, after a long silence, having some pity on his
"Ah! only not quite yet," urged Anna Fedorovna, with a deep sigh.
"But when, then? To-morrow I am going away early.... But really, you owe it
"Well, then, of course it is impossible," said Anna Fedorovna smiling.
"Only give me a chance to see you before to-morrow, so that I may kiss your
hand. I will find one."
"How will you find one?"
"That is my affair. I can do any thing to see you.... Is it agreed?"
The schottische came to an end; they danced through the mazurka, and in it
the count did marvels, purloining handkerchiefs, bending on one knee, and
clinking his spurs in an extraordinary manner, after the Warsaw style, so
that all the old men came from their boston to look into the ballroom;
and the cavalryman who was the best dancer confessed himself outdone. After
they had eaten supper, they danced still the gross vater, and began to
The count all this time did not take his eyes from the little widow. He had
not been insincere when he declared his readiness to throw himself into a
hole in the ice.
Whether it was caprice or love or stubbornness, but that evening all the
strength of his mind had been concentrated into one desire,—to see and to
As soon as he perceived that Anna Fedorovna was taking her farewell of the
hostess, he hastened to the servants' quarters, and thence, without his
shuba, to the place where the carriages were drawn up.
"Anna Fedorovna Zaïtsova's equipage," he cried.
A high four-seated carriage with lanterns moved out, and started to drive
up to the doorstep.
"Stop!" shouted the count to the coachman, rushing up toward the carriage
through snow that was knee-deep.
"What is wanted?" called the driver.
"I want to get into the carriage," replied the count, opening the door as
the carriage moved, and trying to climb in.
"Stop, you devil! stupid! Vaska! stop!" cried the coachman to the
postilion, and reining in the horses. "What are you getting into another
person's carriage for? This belongs to the Lady Anna Fedorovna, and not to
"Hush up, blockhead! Na! there's a ruble for you; now come down and shut
the door!" said the count.
But as the coachman did not move, he lifted the steps himself, and,
shutting the window, managed to pull the door to.
In this, as in all ancient carriages, especially those upholstered in
yellow galloon, there was an odor of mustiness and burnt bristles.
The count's legs were wet to the knees from melting snow, and almost
freezing in his thin boots and trousers; and his whole body was penetrated
by a cold like that of winter.
The coachman was grumbling on his box, and seemed to be getting ready to
get down. But the count heard nothing and felt nothing. His face was aglow,
his heart was beating violently. He convulsively clutched the yellow strap,
thrust his head out of the side-window, and his whole being was
concentrated in expectation.
He was not doomed to wait long. At the door-steps, they shouted,
"Zaïtsova's carriage!" The coachman shook his reins, the carriage swung on
its high springs; the lighted windows of the house passed one after another
by the carriage-windows.
"See here, rogue, if you tell the lackey that I am here," said the count,
thrusting his head through the front window, and addressing the coachman,
"you'll feel my whip; but if you hold your tongue, I will give you ten
He had scarcely time to close the window, when the carriage shook again
still more violently, and then the wheels came to a stop.
He drew back as far as possible into the corner; he ceased to breathe; he
even shut his eyes, so apprehensive was he, lest his passionate expectation
should be disappointed.
The door was opened; one after the other, with a creak, the steps were let
down; a woman's dress rustled, and the close atmosphere of the carriage
was impregnated by the odor of jasmine; a woman's dainty feet hurried up
the steps, and Anna Fedorovna, brushing against the count's leg with the
skirt of her cloak, which was loosely thrown about her, silently, and with
a deep sigh, took her place on the cushioned seat next him.
Whether she saw him or not, no one could decide, not even Anna Fedorovna
herself: but when he took her hand, and said, "Now I will kiss your little
hand anyway," she evinced very little dismay. She said nothing, but let him
take her hand, which he covered with kisses, not stopping at the glove.
The carriage rolled off.
"Tell me something. You are not angry?" said he to her.
She silently sank back into her corner, but suddenly, for some reason or
other, burst into tears, and let her head fall on his breast.
The newly elected isprávnik, with his company, the cavalryman, and other
members of the nobility, had already been listening for some time to the
gypsies, and drinking at the new tavern, when the count, in a blue-lined
bear-skin shuba which had belonged to Anna Fedorovna's late husband, joined
"Little father, your excellency! we have almost given up expecting you,"
said a squint-eyed black gypsy with brilliant teeth, who met him in the
entry and divested him of his shuba. "We haven't met since we were at
Lebedyan.... Stioshka has pined away on account of you."
Stioshka, a slender young gypsy-girl with a cherry red bloom on her
cinnamon-colored cheeks, with brilliant deep black eyes, shaded by long
eyelashes, also hurried to meet him.
"Ah! dear little count! my sweetheart! This is a pleasure," she
exclaimed through her teeth, with a joyous smile.
Ilyushka himself came to greet Turbin, pretending that he was very glad to
see him. The old women, the wives, the young girls, hastened to the spot
and surrounded the guest.
One would have said that he was a relative or a god-brother to them.
Turbin kissed all the young gypsy girls on the lips; the old women and the
men kissed him on the shoulder or on the hand.
The gentlemen were also very glad of the count's arrival; the more because
the festivity, having passed its apogee, was now becoming tame; every one
began to feel a sense of satiety. The wine, having lost its exhilarating
effect on the nerves, only served to load the stomach. Everybody had
discharged the last cannon of his wildness, and was looking around moodily.
All the songs had been sung, and ran in the heads of each, leaving a mere
impression of noise and confusion.
Whatever any one did that was strange and wild, the rest began to look upon
it as nothing very entertaining or amusing.
The isprávnik stretched out on the floor in shameless fashion at the feet
of some old woman, kicked his leg in the air, and began to cry,—
"Champagne!... The count has come!... Champagne!... He has come!... Now
give us champagne!... I will make a bath of champagne, and swim in it!
Gentlemen of the nobility, I love your admirable society!... Stioshka, sing
'The Narrow Road.'"
The cavalryman was also very gay, but in a different fashion. He was
sitting in a corner of a sofa with a tall, handsome gypsy, Liubasha; and
with the consciousness that intoxication was beginning to cloud his eyes,
he kept blinking them, and swinging his head, and repeating the same words
over and over again: he was proposing in a whisper to the gypsy to fly with
Liubasha, smiling, listened to him as though what he said were very amusing
to her, and at the same time rather melancholy. Occasionally she cast her
glances at her husband, the squint-eyed Sashka, who was standing behind a
chair near her. In reply to the cavalryman's declaration of love, she bent
over to his ear, and begged him to buy her some perfume and a ribbon
without any one knowing it, so that the others should not see it.
"Hurrah!" cried the cavalryman when the count came in.
The handsome young man, with an expression of anxiety, was walking up and
down the room with solicitously steady steps, and humming an air from the
"Revolt in the Seraglio."
An old paterfamilias, dragged out to see the gypsies through the
irresistible entreaties of the gentlemen of the nobility, who had told him
that if he staid away every thing would go to pieces, and in that case they
had better not go, was lying on a sofa where he had stretched himself out
immediately on his arrival; and no one paid any attention to him.
A chinovnik, who had been there before, had taken off his coat, was sitting
with his legs on the table, and was rumpling up his hair, and thus proving
that he understood how to be dissipated.
As soon as the count came in, the official unbuttoned his shirt-collar, and
lifted his legs still higher. The count's arrival generally gave new life
to the festivities.
The gypsy girls, who had been scattered about the room, again formed their
circle. The count seated Stioshka, the soloist, on his knee, and ordered
more champagne to be brought. Ilyushka, with his guitar, stood in front of
the soloist, and began the plyaska, that is, the gypsy song and dance,
"When I walk upon the Street," "Hey! you Hussars," "Do you hear, do you
understand?" and others of the usual order.
Stioshka sang splendidly. Her flexible, sonorous contralto, with its deep
chest notes, her smiles while she was singing, her mischievous, passionate
eyes, and her little foot which involuntarily kept time to the measure of
the song, her despairing wail at the end of each couplet,—this all touched
some resonant but tender chord. It was evident that she lived only in the
song that she was singing.
Ilyushka, in his smile, his back, his legs, his whole being, carrying out
in pantomime the idea expressed in the song, accompanied it on his guitar,
and, fixing his eyes upon her as though he were hearing her for the first
time, attentively and carefully lifted and drooped his head with the rhythm
of the song.
Then he suddenly straightened himself up as the singer sang the last note,
and, as though he felt himself superior to every one else in the world,
with proud deliberation kicked the guitar, turned it over, stamped his
foot, tossed back his locks, and looked at the chorus with a frown.
All his body, from his neck to his toes, began to dance in every sinew.
And twenty powerful, energetic voices, each trying to outdo the other in
making strange and extraordinary noises, were lifted in union.
The old women sprang down from their chairs, waving their handkerchiefs,
and showing their teeth, and crying in rhythmic measure, each louder than
the other. The bassos, leaning their heads on one side, and swelling their
necks, bellowed from behind their chairs.
When Stioshka emitted her high notes, Ilyushka brought his guitar nearer to
her as though trying to aid her; and the handsome young man, in his
enthusiasm, cried out that now they struck B-flat.
When they came to the national dance, the Plyasovaya, and Duniasha, with
shoulders and bosom shaking, stepped in front of the count, and was passing
on, Turbin leaped from his place, took off his uniform, and, remaining only
in his red shirt, boldly joined her, keeping up the same measure, and
cutting with his feet such antics, that the gypsies laughed and exchanged
glances of approval.
The isprávnik, who was sitting Turkish fashion, pounded his chest with his
fist, and cried "Vivat!" and then, seizing the count by the leg, began to
tell him that out of two thousand rubles, he had only five hundred left and
that he might do whatever he pleased, if only the count would permit him.
The old paterfamilias woke up, and wanted to go home, but they would not
let him. The handsome young man asked a gypsy girl to waltz with him. The
cavalryman, anxious to exalt himself by his friendship with the count, got
up from his corner, and embraced Turbin. "Ah, my turtle-dove!" he cried.
"Why must you leave us so soon? ha?" The count said nothing, being
evidently absorbed in thought. "Where did you go? Ah, you rascal, I know
where you went!"
This familiarity somehow displeased the Count Turbin. Without smiling, he
looked in silence into the cavalryman's face, and suddenly gave him such a
terrible and grievous affront that the cavalryman was mortified, and for
some time did not know what to make of such an insult, whether it were a
joke or not a joke. At last he made up his mind that it was a joke; he
smiled, and returned to his gypsy, assuring her that he would really marry
her after Easter.
Another song was sung, a third, they danced again; the round of gayety was
kept up, and every one continued to feel gay. There was no end to the
The count drank a great deal. His eyes seemed to grow rather moist, but he
did not grow dizzy; he danced still better than the rest, spoke without any
thickness, and even joined in a chorus, and supported Stioshka when she
sang "The sweet emotion of friendship."
In the midst of the dance and song the merchant, who kept the hotel, came
to beg the guests to go home, as it was three o'clock in the morning.
The count took the landlord by the throat, and ordered him to dance the
prisiadka. The merchant refused. The count snatched a bottle of
champagne, and standing the merchant on his head ordered him to stay so,
and then amid general hilarity poured the whole bottle over him.
The dawn was already breaking. All were pale and weary except the count.
"At all events, I must go to Moscow," said he, suddenly rising. "Come with
me, all of you, to my room, children.... See me off, and let us have some
All accompanied him with the exception of the sleeping proprietor, who
still remained there; they piled into three sledges that were waiting at
the door, and drove off to the hotel.
"Have the horses put in!" cried the count, as he entered the sitting-room
of the hotel with all his friends including the gypsies.
"Sashka,—not the gypsy Sashka, but mine,—tell the superintendent that if
the horses are poor I will flog him. Now give us some tea. Zavalshevsky,
make some tea; I am going to Ilyin's; I want to find how things have gone
with him," added Turbin; and he went out into the corridor, and directed
his steps to the uhlan's room.
Ilyin was just through playing, and, having lost all his money down to his
last kopek, had thrown himself face down on the worn-out haircloth sofa,
and was picking the hairs out one by one, sticking them in his mouth,
biting them into two, and spitting them out again.
Two tallow candles, one of which was already burnt down to the paper, stood
on the card-cluttered ombre-table, and mingled their feeble rays with the
morning light which was beginning to shine through the window.
The uhlan's mind was vacant of all thought: that strange thick fog of the
gambling-passion muffled all the capabilities of his mind so that there was
not even room for regret.
Once he endeavored to think what was left for him to do, how he should get
away without a kopek, how he should pay back the fifteen thousand rubles
of public money that he had lost in gambling, what his colonel would say,
what his mother would say, what his comrades would say; and such fear came
over him, and such disgust at himself, that, in his anxiety to rid himself
of the thought of it, he arose and began to walk up and down through the
room, trying only to walk on the cracks of the floor; and then once more he
began to recall all the least details of the evening.
He vividly imagined that he was winning the whole back again: he takes a
nine, and lays down a king of spades on two thousand rubles; a queen lies
at the right, at the left an ace, at the right a king of diamonds—and all
was lost! but if he had had a six at the right and a king of diamonds at
the left, then he would have won it all back, he would have staked all
again on P, and would have won back his fifteen thousand rubles, then he
would have bought a good pacer of the colonel, an extra pair of horses, and
a phaëton. And what else besides? Ah! indeed it would have been a splendid,
Again he threw himself down on the sofa, and began to bite the hairs once
"Why are they singing songs in No. 7?" he wondered. "It must be, they are
having a jollification in Turbin's room. I'm of a good mind to go there,
and have a little drink."
Just at this moment the count came in.
"Well, have you been losing, brother, hey?" he cried.
"I will pretend to be asleep, otherwise I shall have to talk with him, and
I really want to sleep now."
Nevertheless Turbin went up to him, and laid his hand caressingly on his
head.... "Well, my dear little friend, have you been losing? have you had
bad luck? Tell me."
Ilyin made no reply.
The count took him by the arm.
"I have been losing. What is it to you?" muttered Ilyin, in a sleepy voice
expressing indifference and vexation; he did not change his position.
"Well, yes. What harm is there in it? All! What is it to you?"
"Listen: tell me the truth, as to a comrade," said the count, who, under
the influence of the wine that he had been drinking, was disposed to be
tender, and continued to smooth the other's hair. "You know I have taken a
fancy to you. Tell me the truth. If you have lost the public money, I will
help you; if you don't, it will be too late.... Was it public money?"
Ilyin leaped up from the sofa.
"If you wish me to tell you, don't speak to me so, because ... and I beg of
you don't speak to me.... I will blow my brains out—that's the only thing
that's left for me now!" he exclaimed with genuine despair, letting his
head sink into his hands, and bursting into tears, although but the moment
before he had been calmly thinking about his horses.
"Ekh! you're a pretty young girl! Well, who might not have the same thing
happen to him? It isn't as bad as it might be; perhaps we can straighten
things out: wait for me here."
The count hastened from the room.
"Where is the pomyeshchik Lukhnof's room?" he demanded of the
The hall-boy offered to show the count the way. The count in spite of the
objections of the lackey, who said that his master had only just come in
and was preparing to retire, entered the room.
Lukhnof in his dressing-gown was sitting in front of a table, counting over
a number of packages of bank-notes piled up before him. On the table was a
bottle of Rheinwein, of which he was very fond. He had procured himself
this pleasure from his winnings.
Coldly, sternly, Lukhnof looked at the count over his glasses, affecting
not to recognize him.
"It seems that you do not know me," said the count, proceeding toward the
table with resolute steps.
Lukhnof recognized the count, and asked,—
"What is your pleasure?"
"I wish to play with you," said Turbin, sitting down on the sofa.
"Another time I should be most happy, count; but now I am tired, and am
getting ready to go to bed. Won't you have some wine? It is excellent
"But I wish to play with you for a little while now."
"I am not prepared to play any more. Maybe some of the other guests will.
I will not, count! I beg of you to excuse me."
"Then you will not?"
Lukhnof shrugged his shoulders as though to express his regret at not being
able to fulfil the count's desires.
"Will you not play under any consideration?"
The same gesture.
"I am very desirous of playing with you.... Say, will you play, or not?"
"Will you play?" asked the count a second time.
The same silence, and a quick glance over his glasses at the count's face,
which was beginning to grow sinister.
"Will you play?" cried the count in a loud voice, striking his hand on the
table so violently that the bottle of Rheinwein toppled over and the wine
ran out. "You have been cheating, have you not? Will you play? I ask you
the third time."
"I have told you, no! This is truly strange, count, ... perfectly
unjustifiable, to come this way, and put your knife at a man's throat,"
remarked Lukhnof, not lifting his eyes.
A brief silence followed, during which the count's face grew paler and
paler. Suddenly Lukhnof received a terrible blow on the head, which stunned
him. He fell back on the divan, trying to grasp the money, and screamed in
a penetratingly despairing tone, such as was scarcely to be expected from
him, he was always so calm and imposing in his deportment.
Turbin gathered up the remaining bank-notes that were lying on the table,
pushed away the servant who had come to his master's assistance, and with
quick steps left the room.
"If you wish satisfaction, I am at your service; I shall be in my room for
half an hour yet,—No. 7," added the count, turning back as he reached the
"Villain! thief!" cried a voice from within the room.... "I will have
satisfaction at law!"
Ilyin, who had not paid any heed to the count's promise to help him, was
still lying on the sofa in his room, drowned in tears of despair.
The count's caresses and sympathy had awakened him to a consciousness of
the reality, and now, amidst the fog of strange thoughts and recollections
which filled his mind, it made itself more and more felt.
His youth, rich in hopes, honor, his social position, the dreams of love
and friendship, were all destroyed forever. The fountain of his tears began
to run dry, a too calm feeling of hopelessness took possession of him; and
the thought of suicide, now bringing no sense of repulsion or terror, more
and more frequently recurred to him.
At this moment the count's firm steps were heard.
On Turbin's face were still visible the last traces of his recent wrath,
his hands trembled slightly; but in his eyes shone a kindly gayety and
"There! It has been won back for you!" he cried, tossing upon the table
several packages of bank-notes. "Count them; are they all there? Then come
as soon as possible to the sitting-room; I am going off right away," he
added, as though he did not perceive the tremendous revulsion of joy and
gratefulness which rushed over the uhlan's face. Then, humming a gypsy
song, he left the room.
Sashka, tightening his girdle, was waiting for the horses to be harnessed,
but was anxious to go first and get the count's cloak, which, with the
collar, must have been worth three hundred rubles, and return that
miserable blue-lined shuba to that rascally man who had exchanged with the
count at the marshal's. But Turbin said that it was not necessary, and went
to his room to change his clothes.
The cavalryman kept hiccoughing as he sat silently by his gypsy maiden. The
isprávnik called for vodka, and invited all the gentlemen to come and
breakfast with him, promising them that his wife would, without fail, dance
the national dance with the gypsies.
The handsome young man was earnestly arguing with Ilyushka that there was
more soul in the piano-forte, and that it was impossible to take B-flat on
the guitar. The chinovnik was gloomily drinking tea in one corner, and
apparently the daylight made him feel ashamed of his dissipation.
The gypsies were conversing together in Romany, and urging that they should
once more enliven the gentlemen; to which Stioshka objected, declaring that
it would only vex the barorai,—that is, in Romany, count or prince, or
rather great bárin.
For the most part, the last spark of the orgy was dying out.
"Well, then, one more song for a farewell, and then home with you,"
exclaimed the count, fresh, gay, and radiant above all the others, as he
came into the room ready dressed in his travelling suit.
The gypsies had again formed their circle, and were just getting ready to
sing, when Ilyin came in with a package of bank-notes in his hand, and drew
the count to one side.
"I had only fifteen thousand rubles of public money, but you gave me
sixteen thousand three hundred," said the uhlan; "this is yours, of
"That's a fine arrangement. Let me have it."
Ilyin handed him the money, looking timidly at the count, and opened his
mouth to say something; but then he reddened so painfully that the tears
came into his eyes, and he seized the count's hand, and began to squeeze
"Away with you, Ilyushka ... listen to me! Now, here's your money, but you
must accompany me with your songs to the city limits!" And he threw on his
guitar the thirteen hundred rubles which Ilyin had brought him. But the
count had forgotten to repay the cavalryman the one hundred rubles which he
had borrowed of him the evening before.
It was now ten o'clock in the morning. The little sun was rising above the
housetops, the streets were beginning to fill with people, the merchants
had long ago opened their shops, nobles and chinovniks were riding up and
down through the streets, and ladies were out shopping, when the band of
gypsies, the isprávnik, the cavalryman, the handsome young fellow, Ilyin,
and the count who was wrapped up in his blue-lined bear-skin shuba, came
out on the door-steps of the hotel.
It was a sunny day, and it thawed. Three hired tróïkas, with their tails
knotted, and splashing through the liquid mud, pranced up to the steps; and
the whole jolly company prepared to take their places. The count, Ilyin,
Stioshka, Ilyushka, and Sashka the count's man, mounted the first
Blücher was beside himself with delight, and, wagging his tail, barked at
The other gentlemen, together with the gypsies, men and women, climbed into
the other sledges. From the very hotel the sledges flew off side by side,
and the gypsies set up a merry chorus and song.
The tróïkas, with the songs and jingling bells, dashed through the whole
length of the city to the gates, compelling all the equipages which they
met to rein up on the very sidewalks.
Merchants and passers-by who did not know them, and especially those who
did, were filled with astonishment to see nobles of high rank, in the midst
of "the white day," dashing through the streets with intoxicated gypsies,
singing at the tops of their voices.
When they reached the city limits, the tróïkas stopped, and all the party
took farewell of the count.
Ilyin, who had drunk considerable at the leave-taking, and had all the time
been driving the horses, suddenly became melancholy, and began to urge the
count to stay just one day more; but when he was assured that this was
impossible, quite unexpectedly threw himself into his arms, and began to
kiss his new friend, and promised him that as soon as he got to camp, he
would petition to be transferred into the regiment of hussars in which
Count Turbin served.
The count was extraordinarily hilarious; he tipped into a snow-drift the
cavalryman, who, since morning, had definitely taken to saying thou to
him; he set Blücher on the isprávnik; he took Stioshka into his arms, and
threatened to carry her off with him to Moscow; but at last he tucked
himself into the sledge, and stationed Blücher by his side, who was always
ready to ride. Sashka took his place on the box, after once more asking the
cavalryman to secure the count's cloak from them, and to send it to him.
The count cried "Go on," took off his cap, waved it over his head, and
whistled in post-boy fashion to the horses. The tróïkas parted company.
As far as the eye could see, stretched a monotonous snow-covered plain,
over which wound the yellowish muddy ribbon of the road.
The bright sunlight, dancing, glistened on the melting snow, which was
covered with a thin crust of transparent ice, and pleasantly warmed the
face and back.
The steam arose from the sweaty horses. The bells jingled.
A peasant with a creaking sledge, heavily loaded, slowly turned out
into the slushy snow, twitching his hempen reins, and tramping with his
A stout, handsome peasant woman, with a child wrapped in a sheep-skin on
her lap, who was seated on another load, used the end of her reins to whip
up a white mangy-tailed old nag.
Suddenly the count remembered Anna Fedorovna.
"Turn round!" he cried.
The driver did not understand.
"Turn round and drive back; back to the city! Be quick about it." The
tróïka again passed the city gate, and quickly drew up in front of the
boarded steps of the Zaïtsova dwelling.
The count briskly mounted the steps, passed through the vestibule and the
parlor, and finding the widow still asleep he took her in his arms, lifting
her from her bed, and kissed her sleeping eyes again and again, and then
darted back to the sledge.
Anna Fedorovna awoke from her slumber, and demanded, "What has happened?"
The count took his seat in his sledge, shouted to the driver, and now no
longer delaying, and thinking not of Lukhnof nor of the little widow, nor
of Stioshka, but only of what was awaiting him in Moscow, rapidly left the
city of K. behind him.
A score of years have passed. Much water has run since then, many men have
died, many children have been born, many have grown up and become old;
still more thoughts have been born and perished. Much that was beautiful
and much that was ugly in the past have disappeared; much that is beautiful
in the new has been brought forth, and still more that is incomplete and
abortive of the new has appeared in God's world.
Count Feódor Turbin was long ago killed in a duel with some foreigner whom
he struck on the street with his long whip. His son, who was as like him as
two drops of water, had already reached the age of two or three and twenty,
and was a lovely fellow, already serving in the cavalry.
Morally the young Count Turbin was entirely different from his father.
There was not a shadow of those fiery, passionate, and in truth be it said,
corrupt inclinations, peculiar to the last century.
Together with intelligence, cultivation, and inherited natural gifts, a
love for the proprieties and amenities of life, a practical view of men and
circumstances, wisdom and forethought, were his chief characteristics.
The young count made admirable progress in his profession; at twenty-three
he was already lieutenant.... When war broke out, he came to the conclusion
that it would be more for his interests to enter the regular army; and he
joined a regiment of hussars as captain of cavalry, where he soon was given
command of a battalion.
In the month of May, 1848, the S. regiment of hussars was on its way
through the government of K., and the very battalion which the young Count
Turbin commanded was obliged to be quartered for one night at Morozovka,
Anna Fedorovna's village. Anna Fedorovna was still alive, but was now so
far from being young that she no longer called herself young, which, for a
woman, means much.
She had grown very stout, and this, it is said, restores youth in a woman.
But that was not the worst of it: over her pale, stout flesh was a net-work
of coarse, flabby wrinkles. She no longer went to the city, she even found
it hard to mount into her carriage; but still she was just as good-natured
and as completely vacant-minded as ever,—the truth might safely be told,
now that it was no longer palliated by her beauty.
Under her roof lived her daughter Liza, a rustic Russian belle of
twenty-three summers, and her brother, our acquaintance the cavalryman, who
had spent all his patrimony in behalf of others, and now, in his old age,
had taken refuge with Anna Fedorovna.
The hair on his head had become perfectly gray; his upper lip was sunken,
but the mustache that it wore was carefully dyed. Wrinkles covered not only
his brow and cheeks, but also his nose and neck; and yet his weak bow-legs
gave evidence of the old cavalryman.
Anna Fedorovna's whole family and household were gathered in the small
parlor of the ancient house. The balcony door and windows, looking out into
a star-shaped garden shaded by lindens, were open. Anna Fedorovna, in her
gray hair and a lilac-colored gown, was sitting on the sofa, before a
small round mahogany table, shuffling cards. The old brother, dressed in
spruce white pantaloons and a blue coat, had taken up his position near the
window, knitting strips of white cotton on a fork, an occupation which his
niece had taught him, and which gave him great enjoyment, as he had nothing
else to do, his eyes not being strong enough to enable him to read
newspapers, which was his favorite occupation. Near him Pímotchka, a
protégée of Anna Fedorovna, was studying her lessons under the guidance
of Liza, who with wooden knitting-needles was knitting stockings of
goat-wool for her uncle.
The last rays of the setting sun, as always at this time, threw under the
linden alley their soft reflections on the last window-panes and the little
étagère which stood near it.
In the garden it was so still that one could hear the swift rush of a
swallow's wings, and so quiet in the room that Anna Fedorovna's gentle
sigh, or the old man's cough as he kept changing the position of his legs,
was the only sound.
"How does this go, Lízanka? show me, please. I keep forgetting," said Anna
Fedorovna, pausing in the midst of her game of patience. Liza, without
stopping her work, went over to her mother, and, glancing at the cards,
"Ah!" says she. "You have mixed them all up, dear mamasha," said she,
arranging the cards. "That is the way they should be placed. Now they come
as you desired," she added, secretly withdrawing one card.
"Now you are always managing to deceive me! You said that it would go."
"No, truly; it goes, I assure you. It has come out right."
"Very well, then; very well, you rogue! But isn't it time for tea?"
"I have just ordered the samovár heated. I will go and see about it
immediately. Shall we have it brought here?... Now, Pímotchka, hasten and
finish your lessons, and we will go and take a run."
And Liza started for the door.
"Lízotchka! Lízanka!" cried her uncle, steadfastly regarding his fork,
"again it seems to me I have dropped a stitch. Arrange it for me, my
"In a moment, in a moment. First I must have the sugar broken up."
And in point of fact, within three minutes, she came running into the room,
went up to her uncle, and took him by the ear.
"That's to pay you for dropping stitches," said she laughing. "You have not
been knitting as I taught you."
"Now, that'll do, that'll do, adjust it for me; there seems to be some sort
of a knot."
Liza took the fork, pulled out a pin from her kerchief, which was blown
back a little by the breeze coming through the window, picked it out a
couple of times, and handed it back to her uncle.
"Now you must kiss me for that," said she, putting up her rosy cheek toward
him, and re-adjusting her kerchief. "You shall have rum in your tea to-day.
To-day is Friday, you see."
And again she went to the tea-room.
"Uncle dear, come and look! some hussars are riding up toward the house!"
her ringing voice was heard to say. Anna Fedorovna and her brother hastened
into the tea-room, the windows of which faced the village, and looked at
the hussars. Very little was to be seen; through the cloud of dust it could
be judged only that a body of men was advancing.
"What a pity, sister," remarked the uncle to Anna Fedorovna, "what a pity
that we are so cramped, and the wing is not built yet, so that we might
invite the officers here. Officers of the hussars! they are such glorious,
gay young fellows! I should like to have a glimpse at them."
"Well, I should be heartily glad, but you know yourself that there is
nowhere to put them: my sleeping-room, Liza's room, the parlor, and then
your room,—judge for yourself. Mikháïlo Matveef has put the
stárosta's house in order for them; he says it will be nice there."
"But we must find you a husband, Lízotchka, among them,—a glorious
hussar!" said the uncle.
"No, I do not want a hussar: I want an uhlan. Let me see, you served among
the uhlans, didn't you, uncle?... I don't care to know these hussars. They
say they are desperate fellows."
And Liza blushed a little, and then once more her ringing laugh was heard.
"There's Ustiushka running: we must ask her what she saw," said she. Anna
Fedorovna sent to have Ustiushka brought in.
"She has no idea of sticking to her work, she must always be running off to
look at the soldiers," said Anna Fedorovna.... "Now, where have they lodged
"With the Yeremkins, your ladyship. There are two of them, such lovely men!
One of them is a count, they tell me."
"What's his name?"
"Kazárof or Turbínof. I don't remember, excuse me."
"There now, you're a goose, you don't know how to tell any thing at all.
You might have remembered his name!"
"Well, I'll run and find out."
"I know that you are quite able to do that. But no, let Danílo
go.—Brother, go and tell him to go; have him ask if there is not something
which the officers may need; every thing must be done in good form; have
them understand that it is the lady of the house who has sent to find out."
The old people sat down again in the tea-room, and Liza went to the
servants' room to put the lumps of sugar in the sugar-bowl. Ustiushka was
telling them there about the hussars.
"O my dear young lady, what a handsome man he is! that count!" she said,
"absolutely a little cherubim, with black eyebrows. You ought to have
such a husband as that; what a lovely little couple you would make!" The
other maids smiled approvingly; the old nurse, sitting by the window with
her stocking, sighed, and, drawing a long breath, murmured a prayer.
"It seems to me that the hussars have given you a great deal of pleasure,"
said Liza. "You are a master hand at description. Bring me the mors,
Ustiushka, please; we must give the officers something sour to drink." And
Liza, laughing, went out with the sugar-bowl.
"But I should like to see what sort of a man this hussar is,—whether he is
brunet or blondin. And I imagine he would not object to making our
acquaintance. But he will go away, and never know that I was here and was
thinking about him. And how many have passed by me in this way! No one ever
sees me except uncle and Ustiushka! How many times I have arranged my hair,
how many pairs of cuffs I have put on, and yet no one ever sees me or falls
in love with me," she thought with a sigh, contemplating her white, plump
"He must be tall, and have big eyes, and a nice little black mustache....
No! I am already over twenty-two, and no one has ever fallen in love with
me except the pock-marked Iván Ipátuitch. And four years ago I was still
better-looking; and so my girlhood has gone, and no one is the better for
it. Ah! I am an unhappy country maiden!"
Her mother's voice, calling her to bring the tea, aroused the country
maiden from this momentary revery.
She shook her little head, and went into the tea-room.
The best things always happen unexpectedly; and the more you try to force
them, the worse they come out. In the country it is rare that any attempt
is made to impart education, and therefore when a good one is found it is
generally a surprise. And thus it happened, in a notable degree, in the
case of Liza. Anna Fedorovna, through her own lack of intelligence and
natural laziness, had not given Liza any education at all; had not taught
her music, nor the French language which is so indispensable. But the girl
had fortunately been a healthy, bright little child: she had intrusted her
to a wet-nurse and a day-nurse; she had fed her, and dressed her in print
dresses and goat-skin shoes, and let her run wild and gather mushrooms and
berries; had her taught reading and arithmetic by a resident seminarist.
And thus, as fate would have it, at the age of sixteen, she found in her
daughter a companion, a soul who was always cheerful and good-natured, and
the actual mistress of the house.
Through her goodness of heart, Anna Fedorovna always had in her house some
protégée, either a serf or some foundling. Liza, from the time she was
ten years old, had begun to take care of them; to teach them, clothe them,
take them to church, and keep them still when they were inclined to be
Then her old broken-down but good-natured uncle made his appearance, and he
had to be taken care of like a child. Then the domestic servants and the
peasants began to come to the young mistress with their desires and their
ailments; and she treated them with elderberry, mint, and spirits of
camphor. Then the domestic management of the house fell into her hands
entirely. Then came the unsatisfied craving for love, which found
expression only in nature and religion.
Thus Liza, by chance, grew into an active, good-naturedly cheerful,
self-poised, pure, and deeply religious young woman.
To be sure, she had her little fits of jealousy and envy when she saw, all
around her in church, her neighbors dressed in new, fashionable hats that
came from K.; she was sometimes vexed to tears by her old, irritable
mother, and her caprices; she had her dreams of love in the most absurd and
even the crudest forms, but her healthy activity, which she could not
shirk, drove them away; and now, at twenty-two, not a single spot, not a
single compunction, had touched the fresh, calm soul of this maiden, now
developed into the fulness of perfect physical and moral beauty.
Liza was of medium height, rather plump than lean; her eyes were brown,
small, with a soft dark shade on the lower lid; she wore her flaxen hair in
a long braid.
In walking she took long steps, and swayed like a duck, as the saying is.
The expression of her face, when she was occupied with her duties, and
nothing especially disturbed her, seemed to say to all who looked into it,
"Life in this world is good and pleasant to one who has a heart full of
love, and a pure conscience."
Even in moments of vexation, of trouble, of unrest, or of melancholy, in
spite of her tears, of the drawing-down of the left brow, of the compressed
lips, of the petulance of her desires, even then in the dimples of her
cheeks, in the corners of her mouth, and in her brilliant eyes, so used to
smile and rejoice in life,—even then there shone a heart good and upright,
and unspoiled by knowledge.
It was still rather warm, though the sun was already set, when the
battalion arrived at Morozovka. In front of them, along the dusty village
street, trotted a brindled cow, separated from the herd, bellowing, and
occasionally stopping to look round, and never once perceiving that all she
had to do was to turn out and let the battalion pass.
Peasants, old men, women, children, and domestic serfs, crowding both sides
of the road, gazed curiously at the hussars.
Through a thick cloud of dust the hussars rode along on raven-black horses,
curvetting and occasionally snorting.
At the right of the battalion, gracefully mounted on beautiful black
steeds, rode two officers. One was the commander, Count Turbin; the other a
very young man, who had recently been promoted from the yunkers; his name
A hussar, in a white kittel, came from the best of the cottages, and,
taking off his cap, approached the officers.
"What quarters have been assigned to us?" asked the count.
"For your excellency?" replied the quartermaster, his whole body
shuddering. "Here at the stárosta's; he has put his cottage in order. I
tried to get a room at the mansion, but they said no; the proprietress
is so ill-tempered."
"Well, all right," said the count, dismounting and stretching his legs as
he reached the stárosta's cottage. "Tell me, has my carriage come?"
"It has deigned to arrive, your excellency," replied the quartermaster,
indicating with his cap the leathern carriage-top which was to be seen
inside the gate, and then hastening ahead into the entry of the cottage,
which was crowded with the family of serfs, gathered to have a look at the
He even tripped over an old woman, as he hastily opened the door of the
neatly cleaned cottage, and stood aside to let the count pass.
The cottage was large and commodious, but not perfectly clean. The German
body-servant, dressed like a bárin, was standing in the cottage, and,
having just finished setting up the iron bed, was taking out clean linen
from a trunk.
"Phu! what a nasty lodging!" exclaimed the count in vexation. "Diádenko!
Is it impossible to find me better quarters at the proprietor's or
"If your excellency command, I will go up to the mansion," replied
Diádenko; "but the house is small and wretched, and seems not much better
than the cottage."
"Well, that's all now. You can go."
And the count threw himself down on the bed, supporting his head with his
"Johann!" he cried to his body-servant; "again you have made a hump in the
middle. Why can't you learn to make a bed decently?"
Johann was anxious to make it over again.
"No, you need not trouble about it now!... Where's my dressing-gown?" he
proceeded to ask in a petulant voice. The servant gave him the
The count, before he put it on, examined the skirt. "There it is! You have
not taken that spot out! Could it be possible for any one to be a worse
servant than you are?" he added, snatching the garment from the servant's
hands, and putting it on. "Now tell me, do you do this way on purpose? Is
"I haven't had time to make it," replied Johann.
After this, the count took a French novel which was at hand, and read for
some time without speaking; but Johann went out into the entry to blow up
the coals in the samovár.
It was plain to see that the count was in a bad humor; it must have been
owing to weariness, to the dust on his face, to his tightly-fitting
clothes, and to his empty stomach. "Johann!" he cried again, "give me an
account of those ten rubles. What did you get in town?"
The count looked over the account which the servant handed him, and made
some dissatisfied remarks about the high prices paid.
"Give me the rum for the tea."
"I did not get any rum," said Johann.
"Delightful! How many times have I told you always to have rum?"
"I didn't have money enough."
"Why didn't Polózof buy it? You might have got some from his man."
"The cornet Polózof? I do not know. He bought tea and sugar."
"Beast! Get you gone. You are the only man who has the power to exhaust my
patience! You know that I always take rum in my tea when I am on the
"Here are two letters one of the staff brought for you," said the
The count, as he lay on the bed, tore open the letters, and began to read
them. At this moment the cornet came in with gay countenance, having
quartered the battalion.
"Well, how is it, Turbin? It's first-rate here, seems to me. I am tired
out, I confess it. It has been a warm day."
"First-rate! I should think so! A dirty, stinking hut! and no rum, thanks
to you. Your stupid did not buy any, nor this one either. You might have
said something anyway!"
And he went on with his reading. After he had read the letter through, he
crumpled it up, and threw it on the floor.
"Why didn't you buy some rum?" the cornet in a whisper demanded of his
servant in the entry. "Didn't you have any money?"
"Well, why should we be always the ones to spend the money? I have enough
to spend for without that, and his German does nothing but smoke his
The second letter was evidently not disagreeable, because the count smiled
as he read it.
"Who's that from?" asked Polózof, returning to the room, and trying to
arrange for himself a couch on the floor, near the oven.
"From Mina," replied the count gayly, handing him the letter. "Would you
like to read it? What a lovely woman she is! Now, she's better than our
young ladies, that's a fact. Just see what feeling and what wit in that
letter! There's only one thing that I don't like,—she asks me for money!"
"No, that's not pleasant," replied the cornet.
"Well it's true I promised to give her some; but this expedition—And
besides, if I am commander of the battalion, at the end of three months I
will send some to her. I should not regret it; she's really a lovely woman.
Isn't she?" he asked with a smile, following with his eyes Polózof's
expression as he read the letter.
"Horribly misspelled, but sweet; it seems to me she really loves you,"
replied the cornet.
"Hm! I should think so! Only these women truly love when they do love."
"But who was that other letter from?" asked the cornet, pointing to the one
which he had read.
"That? Oh, that's from a certain man, very ugly, to whom I owe a gambling
debt, and this is the third time that he has reminded me of it. I can't pay
it to him now. It's a stupid letter," replied the count, evidently nettled
by the recollection of it.
The two officers remained silent for some little time. The cornet, who, it
seemed, had come under Turbin's influence, drank his tea without speaking,
though he occasionally cast a glance at the clouded face of the handsome
count, who gazed steadily out of the window. He did not venture to renew
"Well, then, I think it can be accomplished without difficulty," suddenly
exclaimed the count, turning to Polózof, and gayly nodding his head. "If we
who are in the line get promoted this year, yes, and if we take part in
some engagement, then I can overtake my former captains of the guard."
They were drinking their second cup of tea, and the conversation was still
dwelling on this theme, when the old Danílo came with the message from Anna
"And she would also like to know whether you are not pleased to be the son
of Feódor Ivánovitch Turbin," he added, on his own responsibility, as he
had found out the officer's name, and still remembered the late count's
visit to the city of K. "Our mistress, Anna Fedorovna, used to be very
well acquainted with him."
"He was my father. Now tell the lady that I am very much obliged, but that
I need nothing; only, if it would not be possible to give me a cleaner room
in the mansion, say, or somewhere."
"Now, why did you do that?" asked Polózof after Danílo had gone. "Isn't it
just the same thing? For one night isn't it just as well here? And it will
put them to inconvenience."
"There it is again! It seems to me we have had enough of being sent round
among these smoky hovels. It's easy enough to see that you are not a
practical man. Why shouldn't we seize the opportunity, when we can, of
sleeping, even if it's for only one night, like decent men? And they,
contrary to what you think, will be mighty glad. There's only one thing
objectionable. If this lady used to know my father," continued the count,
with a smile that discovered his white gleaming teeth,—"somehow I always
feel a little ashamed of my late papasha; there's always some scandalous
story, or some debt or other. And so I can't endure to meet any of my
father's acquaintances. However, that was an entirely different age," he
"Oh! I did not tell you," rejoined Polózof. "I recently met Ilyin, the
brigade commander of uhlans. He is very anxious to see you; he is
passionately fond of your father."
"I think that he is terrible trash, that Ilyin. But the worst is that all
these gentlemen who imagine that they knew my father in order to make
friends with me, insist upon telling me, as though it were very pleasant
for me to hear, about escapades of his that make me blush. It is true I am
not impulsive, and I look upon things dispassionately; while he was too
hot-spirited a man, and sometimes he played exceedingly reprehensible
tricks. However, that was all due to his time. In our day and generation,
maybe, he would have been a very sensible man, for he had tremendous
abilities; one must give him credit for that."
In a quarter of an hour the servant returned, and brought an invitation for
them to come and spend the night at the mansion.
As soon as Anna Fedorovna learned that the officer of hussars was the son
of Count Feódor Turbin, she was thrown into a great state of excitement.
"Oh! great heavens! he is my darling! Danílo! run, hurry, tell them the
lady invites them to stay at her house," she cried, in great agitation, and
hastening to the servants' room. "Lízanka! Ustiushka! You must have your
room put in order, Liza. You can go into your uncle's room; and you,
brother,—brother, you can sleep to-night in the parlor. It's for only one
"That's nothing, sister! I would sleep on the floor."
"He must be a handsome fellow, I think, if he's like his father. Only let
me see him, the turtle-dove! You shall see for yourself, Liza. Ah! his
father was handsome! Where shall we put the table? Let it go there," said
Anna Fedorovna, running about here and there. "There now, bring in two
beds; get one from the overseer, and get from the étagère the glass
candlestick which my brother gave me for my birthday, and put in a wax
At last all was ready. Liza, in spite of her mother's interference,
arranged her room in her own way for the two officers.
She brought out clean linen sheets, fragrant of mignonnette, and had the
beds made; she ordered a carafe of water and candles near it on the little
table. She burned scented paper in the girls' room, and moved her own
little bed into her uncle's chamber.
Anna Fedorovna gradually became calm, and sat down again in her usual
place; she even took out her cards; but instead of shuffling them, she
leaned on her fat elbow, and gave herself up to her thoughts.
"How time has gone! how time has gone!" she exclaimed in a whisper. "It is
long! long! isn't it? I seem to see him now! Akh! he was a scamp!"
And the tears came into her eyes. "Now here is Lízanka, but she isn't at
all what I was at her age. She is a nice girl; but no, not quite....
"Lízanka, you had better wear your mousselin-de-laine dress this evening."
"But are you going to invite them down-stairs, mamasha? You had better not
do it," rejoined Liza, with a feeling of invincible agitation at the
thought of seeing the officers. "You had better not, mamasha!"
In point of fact, she did not so much desire to see them, as she felt
apprehensive of some painful pleasure awaiting her, as it seemed to her.
"Perhaps they themselves would like to make our acquaintance, Lízotchka,"
said Anna Fedorovna, glancing at her daughter's hair, and at the same time
thinking, "No, not such hair as I had at her age. No, Lízotchka, how much I
could wish for you!" And she really wished something very excellent for her
daughter, but she could scarcely look forward to a match with the count;
she could not desire such a relationship as she herself had formed with his
father; but that something good would come of it, she wished very, very
much for her daughter. She possibly had the desire to live over again in
her daughter's happiness all the life which she lived with the late count.
The old cavalryman was also somewhat excited by the count's coming. He went
to his room, and shut himself up in it. At the end of a quarter of an hour,
he re-appeared dressed in a Hungarian coat and blue pantaloons; and with a
troubled-happy expression of countenance, such as a girl wears when she
puts on her first ball-dress, he started for the room assigned to the
"We shall have a glimpse of some of the hussars of to-day, sister. The late
count was indeed a genuine hussar. We shall see! we shall see!"
The officers had by this time come in by the back entrance, and were in the
room that had been put at their service.
"There now," said the count, stretching himself out in his dusty boots on
the bed which had just been made for him, "if we aren't better off here
than we were there in that hovel with the cockroaches!"
"Better? of course; but think what obligations we are putting ourselves
under to the people here."
"What rubbish! You must always be a practical man. They are mighty glad to
have us, of course. Fellow!" cried the count, "ask some one to put a
curtain up at this window, else there'll be a draught in the night."
At this moment the old man came in to make the acquaintance of the
officers. Though he was somewhat confused, he did not fail to tell how he
had been a comrade of the late count's, who had been very congenial to him,
and he even went so far as to say that more than once he had been under
obligations to the late count. Whether he meant, in speaking of the
obligations to the late count, a reference to the hundred rubles which the
count had borrowed and never returned, or to his throwing him into the
snow-drift, or to the slap in the face, the old man failed to explain.
However, the count was very urbane with the old cavalryman, and thanked him
for his hospitality.
"You must excuse us if it is not very luxurious, count,"—he almost said
"your excellency," as he had got out of the habit of meeting with men of
rank. "My sister's house is rather small. As for the window here, we will
find something to serve as a curtain right away, and it will be
first-rate," added the little old man; and under the pretext of going for a
curtain, but really because he wanted to give his report about the officers
as quickly as possible, he left the room. The pretty little Ustiushka came,
bringing her mistress's shawl to serve as a curtain. She was also
commissioned to ask if the gentlemen would not like some tea.
The cheerful hospitality had had a manifestly beneficent influence upon the
count's spirits. He laughed and jested with Ustiushka gayly, and went to
such lengths that she even called him a bad man; he asked her if her
mistress was pretty, and in reply to her question whether he would like
some tea, replied that she might please bring him some, but above all, as
his supper was not ready, he would like some vodka now, and a little lunch,
and some sherry if there was any.
The old uncle was in raptures over the young count's politeness, and
praised to the skies the young generation of officers, saying that the men
of the present day were far preferable to those of the past.
Anna Fedorovna could not agree to that,—no one could be any better than
Count Feódor Ivánovitch,—and she was beginning to grow seriously angry,
and remarked dryly, "For you, brother, the one who flatters you last is the
best! Without any question, the men of our time are better educated, but
still Feódor Ivánovitch could dance the schottische, and was so amiable
that everybody in his day, you might say, was stupid compared to him! only
he did not care for any one else beside me. Oh, certainly there were fine
men in the old time!"
At this moment came the message requesting the vodka, the lunch, and the
"There now, just like you, brother! You never do things right. We ought to
have had supper prepared.... Liza, attend to it, that's my darling."
Liza hastened to the storeroom for mushrooms and fresh cream butter, and
told the cook to prepare beef cutlets.
"How much sherry is there? Haven't you any left, brother?"
"No, sister; I never have had any."
"What! no sherry? but what is it you drink in your tea?"
"That is rum, Anna Fedorovna."
"Isn't that the same thing? Give them some of that. It is all the same,
it'll make no difference. Or would it not be better to invite them down
here, brother? You know all about it. They would not be offended, I
imagine, would they?"
The cavalryman assured her that he would answer for it that the count, in
his goodness of heart, would not decline, and that he would certainly bring
Anna Fedorovna went off to put on, for some reason or other, her gros-grain
dress and a new cap; but Liza was so busy that she had no time to take off
her pink gingham dress with wide sleeves. Moreover, she was terribly
wrought up; it seemed to her that something astonishing, like a very low
black cloud, was sweeping down upon her soul.
This count-hussar, this handsome fellow, seemed to her an absolutely novel
and unexpected but beautiful creature. His character, his habits, his
words, it seemed to her, must be something extraordinary, such as had never
come into the range of her experience. All that he thought and said must be
bright and true; all that he did must be honorable; his whole appearance
must be beautiful. She could have no doubt of that. If he had demanded not
merely a lunch and sherry, but even a bath in spirits of salvia, she would
not have been surprised, she would not have blamed him, and she would have
been convinced that this was just and reasonable.
The count immediately accepted when the cavalryman brought him his sister's
invitation; he combed his hair, put on his coat, and took his cigar-case.
"Will you come?" he asked of Polózof.
"Indeed we had better not go," replied the cornet; "ils feront des frais
pour nous recevoir."
"Rubbish! it will make them happy. Besides, I have been making
inquiries ... there's a pretty daughter here.... Come along," said the
count in French.
"Je vous en prie, messieurs," said the cavalryman, merely for the sake of
giving them to understand that he also could speak French, and understood
what the officers were saying.
Liza, red in the face and with downcast eyes, was ostensibly occupied with
filling up the teapot, and did not dare to look at the officers as they
entered the room.
Anna Fedorovna, on the contrary, briskly jumped up and bowed, and without
taking her eyes from the count's face began to talk to him, now finding an
extraordinary resemblance to his father, now presenting her daughter, now
offering him tea, meats, or jelly-cakes.
No one paid any attention to the cornet, thanks to his modest behavior; and
he was very glad of it, because it gave him a chance, within the limits of
propriety, to observe and study the details of Liza's beauty, which had
evidently come over him with the force of a surprise.
The uncle listening to his sister's conversation had a speech ready on his
lips, and was waiting for a chance to relate his cavalry experiences.
The count smoked his cigar over his tea, so that Liza had great difficulty
in refraining from coughing, but he was very talkative and amiable; at
first, in the infrequent pauses of Anna Fedorovna's conversation, he
introduced his own stories, and finally he took the conversation into his
One thing struck his listeners as rather strange: in his talk he often used
words, which, though not considered reprehensible in his own set, were
here rather audacious, so that Anna Fedorovna was a little abashed, and
Liza blushed to the roots of her hair. But this the count did not notice,
and continued to be just as natural and amiable as ever.
Liza filled the glasses in silence, not putting them into the hands of the
guests, but pushing them toward them; she had not entirely recovered from
her agitation, but listened eagerly to the count's anecdotes.
The count's pointless tales, and the pauses in the conversation, gradually
re-assured her. The bright things that she had expected from him were not
forthcoming, nor did she find in him that surpassing elegance for which she
had confusedly hoped. Even as soon as the third glass of tea, when her
timid eyes once encountered his, and he did not avoid them, but continued
almost too boldly to stare at her, with a lurking smile, she became
conscious of a certain feeling of hostility against him; and she soon
discovered that there was not only nothing out of the ordinary in him, but
that he was very little different from those whom she had already seen; in
fact, that there was no reason to be afraid of him. She noticed that he had
long and neat finger-nails, but otherwise there was no mark of special
beauty about him.
Liza suddenly, not without some inward sorrow, renouncing her dream,
regained her self-possession; and only the undemonstrative cornet's glance,
which she felt fixed upon her, disquieted her.
"Perhaps it is not the count, but the other," she said to herself.
After tea, the old lady invited her guests into the other room, and again
sat down in her usual place. "But perhaps you would like to rest, count?"
she asked. "Well, then, what would you like to amuse yourselves with, my
dear guests?" she proceeded to ask after she had been assured to the
contrary. "You play cards, do you not, count?—Here, brother, you might
take a hand in some game or other."...
"Why, you yourself can play préférence," replied the cavalryman. "You had
better take a hand, then. The count will play, will he not? And you?"
The officers were agreeable to every thing that might satisfy their amiable
Liza brought from her room her old cards which she used for divining
whether her mother would speedily recover of a cold, or whether her uncle
would return on such and such a day from the city if he chanced to have
gone there, or whether her neighbor would be in during the day, and other
like things. These cards, though they had been in use for two months, were
less soiled than those which Anna Fedorovna used for the same purpose.
"Perhaps you are not accustomed to playing for small stakes," suggested the
uncle. "Anna Fedorovna and I play for half-kopeks, and then she always gets
the better of all of us."
"Ah! make your own arrangements. I shall be perfectly satisfied," said the
"Well, then, be it in paper kopeks for the sake of our dear guests; only
let me gain, as I am old," said Anna Fedorovna, settling herself in her
chair, and adjusting her mantilla. "Maybe I shall win a ruble of them,"
thought Anna Fedorovna, who in her old age felt a little passion for cards.
"If you would like, I will teach you to play with tablets," said the count,
"and with the miséries. It is very jolly."
Everybody was delighted with this new Petersburg fashion. The uncle went so
far as to assert that he knew it, and that it was just the same thing as
boston, but that he had forgotten somewhat about it.
Anna Fedorovna did not comprehend it at all; and it took her so long to get
into it, that she felt under the necessity of smiling and nodding her head
assuringly, to give the impression that she now understood, and that now it
was all perfectly clear to her. But there was no little amusement created
when in the midst of the game Anna Fedorovna, with ace and king blank,
called "misérie," and remained with the six. She even began to grow
confused, smiled timidly, and hastened to assure them that she had not as
yet become accustomed to the new way.
Nevertheless they put down the points against her, and many of them too;
the more because the count, through his practice of playing on large
stakes, played carefully, led very prudently, and never at all understood
what the cornet meant by sundry raps with his foot under the table, or why
he made such stupid blunders in playing.
Liza brought in more jelly-cakes, three kinds of preserves, and apples
cooked in some manner with port-wine; and then, standing behind her
mother's chair, she looked on at the game, and occasionally watched the
officers, and especially the count's white hands with their delicate long
finger-nails, as he with such skill, assurance, and grace, threw the cards,
and took the tricks.
Once more Anna Fedorovna, with some show of temper going beyond the others,
bid as high as seven, and lost three points; and when, at her brother's
instigation, she tried to make some calculation, she found herself utterly
confused and off the track.
"It's nothing, mamasha; you'll win it back again," said Liza, with a smile,
anxious to rescue her mother from her ridiculous position. "Some time
you'll put a fine on uncle: then he will be caught."
"But you might help me, Lízotchka," cried Anna Fedorovna, looking with an
expression of dismay at her daughter; "I don't know how this"....
"But I don't know how to play this either," rejoined Liza, carefully
calculating her mother's losses. "But if you go on at this rate, mamasha,
you will lose a good deal, and Pímotchka will not have her new dress," she
added in jest.
"Yes, in this way it is quite possible to lose ten silver rubles," said the
cornet, looking at Liza, and anxious to draw her into conversation.
"Aren't we playing for paper money?" asked Anna Fedorovna, gazing round at
"I don't know, I am sure," replied the count. "But I don't know how to
reckon in bank-notes. What are they? what do you mean by bank-notes?"
"Why, no one nowadays reckons in bank-notes," explained the cavalryman, who
was playing like a hero and was on the winning side.
The old lady ordered some sparkling wine, drank two glasses herself, grew
quite flushed, and seemed to abandon all hope. One braid of her gray hair
escaped from under her cap, and she did not even put it up. It was evident
that she thought herself losing millions, and that she was entirely ruined.
The cornet kept nudging the count's leg more and more emphatically. The
count was noting down the old lady's losses.
At last the game came to an end. In spite of Anna Fedorovna's efforts to
bring her reckoning higher than it should be, and to pretend that she had
been cheated in her account, and that it could not be correct, in spite of
her dismay at the magnitude of her losses, at last the account was made
out, and she was found to have lost nine hundred and twenty points.
"Isn't that equal to nine paper rubles?" she asked again and again; and she
did not begin to realize how great her forfeit was, until her brother, to
her horror, explained that she was "out" thirty-two and a half paper
rubles, and that it was absolutely necessary for her to pay it.
The count did not even sum up his gains, but, as soon as the game was over,
arose and went over to the window where Liza was arranging the lunch, and
putting potted mushrooms on a plate. There he did with perfect calmness and
naturalness what the cornet had been anxious and yet unable to effect all
the evening,—he engaged her in conversation about the weather.
The cornet at this time was brought into a thoroughly unpleasant
predicament. Anna Fedorovna, in the absence of the count and Liza, who had
managed to keep her in a jovial frame of mind, became really angry.
"Indeed, it is too bad that we have caused you to lose so heavily," said
Polózof, in order to say something. "It is simply shameful."
"I should think these tablets and miséries were something of your own
invention. I don't know any thing about them. How many paper rubles does
the whole amount to?" she demanded.
"Thirty-two rubles, thirty-two and a half," insisted the cavalryman, who,
from the effect of having been on the winning side, was in a very waggish
frame of mind. "Give him the money, sister.... Give it to him."
"I will give all I owe, only you must not ask for any more. No, I shall
never win it back in my life."
And Anna Fedorovna went to her room, all in excitement, hurried back, and
brought nine paper rubles. Only on the old man's strenuous insistence she
was induced to pay the whole sum. Polózof had some fear that the old lady
would pour out on him the vials of her wrath if he entered into
conversation with her. He silently, without attracting attention, turned
away, and rejoined the count and Liza, who were talking at the open window.
On the table, which was now spread for the supper, stood two tallow
candles, whose flame occasionally flickered in the gentle breeze of the
mild May night. Through the window opening into the garden came a very
different light from that which filled the room. The moon, almost at its
full, already beginning to lose its golden radiance, was pouring over the
tops of the lofty lindens, and making brighter and brighter the delicate
fleecy clouds that occasionally overcast it.
From the pond, the surface of which, silvered in one place by the moon,
could be seen through the trees, came the voices of the frogs. In the
sweet-scented lilac-bush under the very window, which from time to time
slowly shook its heavy-laden blossoms, birds were darting and fluttering.
"What marvellous weather!" said the count, as he joined Liza, and sat down
in the low window-seat. "I suppose you go to walk a good deal, don't you?"
"Yes," rejoined Liza, not experiencing the slightest embarrassment in the
count's company. "Every morning, at seven o'clock, I make the tour of the
estate, and sometimes I take a walk with Pímotchka,—mamma's protégée."
"It's pleasant living in the country," cried the count, putting his monocle
to his eye, and gazing first at the garden, and then at Liza. "But don't
you like to take a walk on moonlight nights?"
"No. Three years ago my uncle and I used to go out walking every moonlight
night. He had some sort of strange illness,—insomnia. Whenever there was a
full moon, he could not sleep. His room like this opens into the garden,
and the window is low. The moon shines right into it."
"Strange," remarked the count. "Then this is your room."
"No, I only sleep there for this one night. You occupy my room."
"Is it possible? ... oh, good heavens! I shall never in the world
forgive myself for the trouble that I have caused," said the count, casting
the monocle from his eye as a sign of sincerity.... "If I had only known
that I was going to"....
"How much trouble was it? On the contrary, I am very glad. My uncle's room
is so nice and jolly: there's a low window there. I shall sit down in it
before I go to bed, or perhaps I shall go down, out into the garden, and
take a little walk."
"What a glorious girl!" said the count to himself, replacing the monocle,
and staring at her, and while pretending to change his seat in the window,
trying to touch her foot with his. "And how shrewdly she gave me to
understand that I might meet her in the garden at the window, if I would
Liza even lost in the count's eyes a large share of her charm, so easy did
the conquest of her seem to him.
"And how blissful it must be," said the count dreamily, gazing into the
shadow-haunted alley, "to spend such a night in the garden with the object
of one's love!"
Liza was somewhat abashed by these words, and by a second evidently
deliberate pressure upon her foot. Before she thought, she made some reply
for the sake of dissimulating her embarrassment.
She said, "Yes, it is splendid to walk in the moonlight."
There was something disagreeable about the whole conversation. She put the
cover on the jar from which she had been taking the mushrooms, and was just
turning from the window, when the cornet came toward her, and she felt a
curiosity to know what kind of a man he was.
"What a lovely night!" said he.
"They can only talk about the weather," thought Liza.
"What a wonderful view!" continued the cornet, "only I should think it
would be tiresome," he added through a strange propensity, peculiar to him,
of saying things sure to offend the people who pleased him very much.
"Why should you think so? Always the same cooking and always the same dress
might become tiresome; but a lovely garden can never be tiresome when you
enjoy walking, and especially when there's a moon rising higher and higher.
From my uncle's room you can see the whole pond. I shall see it from there
"And you haven't any nightingales at all, have you?" asked the count,
greatly put out, because Polózof had come and prevented him from learning
the exact conditions of the rendezvous.
"Oh, yes, we always have them; last year the hunters caught one; and last
week there was one that sang beautifully, but the district inspector
came along with his bells, and scared him away.... Three years ago my uncle
and I used to sit out in the covered alley, and listen to one for two hours
at a time."
"What is this chatterbox telling you about?" inquired the old uncle,
joining the trio. "Aren't you ready for something to eat?"
At supper, the count by his reiterated praise of the viands, and his
appetite, succeeded somewhat in pacifying Anna Fedorovna's unhappy state of
mind. Afterwards the officers made their adieux, and went to their room.
The count shook hands with the old cavalier, and, to Anna Fedorovna's
surprise, with her, without offering to kiss her hand; and he also squeezed
Liza's hand, at the same time looking straight into her eyes, and craftily
smiling his pleasing smile. This glance again somewhat disconcerted the
maiden. "He is very handsome," she said to herself, "only he is quite too
"Well, now, aren't you ashamed?" exclaimed Polózof, when the two officers
had reached the privacy of their chamber. "I tried to lose, and I kept
nudging you under the table. Now aren't you really ashamed? The poor old
lady was quite beside herself."
The count burst into a terrible fit of laughter.
"A most amusing dame! How abused she felt!"
And again he began to laugh so heartily that even Johann, who was standing
in front of him, cast down his eyes to conceal a smile. "And here is the
son of an old family friend! Ha, ha, ha!" continued the count in a gale of
"No, indeed, it is not right. I felt really sorry for her," said the
"What rubbish! How young you are! What! did you think that I was going to
lose? Why should I lose? I only lose when I don't know any better. Ten
rubles, brother, will come in handy. You must look on life in a practical
way, or else you will always be a fool."
Polózof made no answer: in the first place, he wanted to think by himself
about Liza, who seemed to him to be an extraordinarily pure and beautiful
He undressed, and lay down on the clean soft bed which had been made ready
"How absurd all these honors and the glory of war!" he thought to himself,
gazing at the window shaded by the shawl, through the interstices of which
crept the pale rays of the moon. "Here is happiness—to live in a quiet
nook, with a gentle, bright, simple-hearted wife; that is enduring, true
But somehow he did not communicate these imaginations to his friend; and he
did not even speak of the rustic maiden, though he felt sure that the count
was also thinking about her.
"Why don't you undress?" he demanded of the count, who was walking up and
down the room.
"Oh, I don't feel like sleeping! Put out the candle if you like," said he.
"I can undress in the dark."
And he continued to walk up and down.
"He does not feel sleepy," repeated Polózof, who after the evening's
experiences felt more than ever dissatisfied with the count's influence
upon him, and disposed to revolt against it. "I imagine," he reasoned,
mentally addressing Turbin, "what thoughts are now trooping through that
well-combed head of yours. And I saw how she pleased you. But you are not
the kind to appreciate that simple-hearted, pure-minded creature. Mina is
the one for you, you want the epaulets of a colonel.—Indeed, I have a mind
to ask him how he liked her."
And Polózof was about to address him, but he deliberated: he felt that not
only he was not in the right frame of mind to discuss with him if the
count's glance at Liza was what he interpreted it to be, but that he should
not have the force of mind necessary for him to disagree with him, so
accustomed was he to submit to an influence which for him grew each day
more burdensome and unrighteous.
"Where are you going?" he asked, as the count took his cap and went to the
"I am going to the stable; I wish to see if every thing is all right."
"Strange!" thought the cornet; but he blew out the candle, and, trying to
dispel the absurdly jealous and hostile thoughts that arose against his
former friend, he turned over on the other side.
Anna Fedorovna meantime, having crossed herself, and kissed her brother,
her daughter, and her protégée, as affectionately as usual, also retired
to her room.
Long had it been since the old lady had experienced in a single day so many
powerful sensations. She could not even say her prayers in tranquillity;
all the melancholy but vivid remembrances of the late count, and of this
young dandy who had so ruthlessly taken advantage of her, kept coming up in
Nevertheless she undressed as usual, and drank a half glass of kvas which
stood ready on the little table near the bed, and lay down. Her beloved cat
came softly into the room. Anna Fedorovna called her, and began to stroke
her fur, and listen to her purring; but still she could not go to sleep.
"It is the cat that disturbs me," she said to herself, and pushed her away.
The cat fell to the floor softly, and, slowly waving her bushy tail, got
upon the oven; and then the maid, who slept in the room on the floor,
brought her felt, and put out the candle, after lighting the night-lamp.
At last the maid began to snore; but sleep still refused to come to Anna
Fedorovna, and calm her excited imagination. The face of the hussar
constantly arose before her mental vision, when she shut her eyes; and it
seemed to her that it appeared in various strange guises in her room, when
she opened her eyes and looked at the commode, at the table, and her white
raiment hanging up in the feeble light of the night-lamp. Then it seemed
hot to her in the feather-bed, and the ticking of the watch on the table
seemed unendurable; exasperating to the last degree, the snoring of the
maid. She wakened her, and bade her cease snoring.
Again the thoughts of the old count and of the young count, and of the game
of préférence, became strangely mixed in her mind. Now she seemed to see
herself waltzing with the former count; she saw her own round white
shoulders, she felt on them some one's kisses, and then she saw her
daughter in the young count's embrace.
Once more Ustiushka began to snore....
"No, it's somehow different now, the men aren't the same. He was ready to
fling himself into the fire for my sake. Yes, I was worth doing it for! But
this one, have no fear, is sound asleep like a goose, instead of wooing.
How his father fell on his knees, and said, 'Whatever you desire I will do,
I could kill myself in a moment; what do you desire?' And he would have
killed himself, if I had bade him!"...
Suddenly the sound of bare feet was heard in the corridor; and Liza with a
shawl thrown over her came in pale and trembling, and almost fell on her
After saying good-night to her mother, Liza had gone alone to the room that
had been her uncle's. Putting on a white jacket, throwing a handkerchief
round her thick long braids, she put out the light, opened the window, and
curled up in a chair, turning her dreamy eyes to the pond which was now all
shining with silver brilliancy.
All her ordinary occupations and interests came up before her now in an
entirely different light. Her capricious old mother, unreasoning love for
whom had become a part of her very soul, her feeble but amiable old uncle,
the domestics, the peasants who worshipped their young mistress, the milch
cows and the calves; all this nature which was forever the same in its
continual death and resurrection, amid which she had grown up, with love
for others, and with the love of others for her,—all this that gave her
that gentle, agreeable peace of mind,—suddenly seemed to her something
different; it all seemed to her dismal, superfluous.
It was as though some one said to her, "Fool, fool! For twenty years you
have been occupied in trivialities, you have been serving others without
reason, and you have not known what life, what happiness, were!"
This was what she thought now as she gazed down into the depths of the
motionless moonlit garden, and the thought came over her with vastly more
force than ever before. And what was it that induced this train of thought?
It was not in the least a sudden love for the count, as might easily be
supposed. On the contrary, he did not please her. It might rather have been
the cornet of whom she was thinking; but he was homely, poor, and taciturn.
"No, it isn't that," she said to herself.
Her ideal was so charming! It was an ideal which might have been loved in
the midst of this night, in the midst of this nature, without infringing
its supernal beauty; an ideal not in the least circumscribed by the
necessity of reducing it to coarse reality.
In days gone by, her lonely situation, and the absence of people who might
have attracted her, caused that all the strength of the love which
Providence has implanted impartially in the hearts of each one of us, was
still intact and potential in her soul. But now she had been living too
long with the pathetic happiness of feeling that she possessed in her heart
this something, and occasionally opening the mysterious chalice of her
heart, of rejoicing in the contemplation of its riches, ready to pour out
without stint on some one all that it contained.
God grant that she may not have to take this melancholy delight with her to
the tomb! But who knows if there be any better and more powerful delight,
or if it is not the only true and possible one?
"O Father in heaven," she thought, "is it possible that I have lost my
youth and my happiness, and that they will never return?... Will they never
return again? is it really true?"
She gazed in the direction of the moon at the bright far-off sky, studded
with white wavy clouds, which, as they swept on toward the moon, blotted
out the little stars.
"If the moon should seize that little cloud above it, then it means that it
is true," she thought. A thin smoke-like strip of cloud passed over the
lower half of the brilliant orb, and gradually the light grew fainter on
the turf, on the linden tops, on the pond: the black shadows of the trees
grew less distinct. And as though to harmonize with the gloomy shade which
was enveloping nature, a gentle breeze stirred through the leaves, and
brought to the window the dewy fragrance of the leaves, the moist earth,
and the blooming lilacs.
"No, it is not true!" she said, trying to console herself; "but if the
nightingale should sing this night, then I should take it to mean that all
my forebodings are nonsense, and that there is no need of losing hope."
And long she sat in silence, as though expecting some one, while once more
all grew bright and full of life; and then again and again the clouds
passed over the moon, and all became sombre.
She was even beginning to grow drowsy, as she sat there by the window, when
she was aroused by the nightingale's melodious trills clearly echoing
across the pond. The rustic maiden opened her eyes. Once more, with a new
enjoyment, her whole soul was dedicated to that mysterious union with the
nature which so calmly and serenely spread out before her.
She leaned on both elbows. A certain haunting sensation of gentle
melancholy oppressed her heart; and tears of pure, deep love, burning for
satisfaction, good consoling tears, sprang to her eyes.
She leaned her arms on the window-sill, and rested her head upon them. Her
favorite prayer seemed of its own accord to arise in her soul, and thus she
fell asleep with moist eyes.
The pressure of some one's hand awakened her. She started up. But the touch
was gentle and pleasant. The hand squeezed hers with a stronger pressure.
Suddenly she realized the true state of things, screamed, tore herself
away; and trying to make herself believe that it was not the count who,
bathed in the brilliant moonlight, was standing in front of her window, she
hastened from the room.
It was indeed the count. When he heard the maiden's cry, and the cough of
the watchman who was coming from the other side of the fence in reply to
the shriek, he had the sensation of being a thief caught in the act, and
started to run across the dew-drenched grass, so as to hide in the depths
of the garden.
"Oh, what a fool I was!" he said instinctively. "I frightened her. I ought
to have been more gentle, to have wakened her by gentle words. Oh! I am a
beast, a blundering beast."
He paused and listened. The watchman had come through the wicket-gate into
the garden, dragging his cane along the sanded walk.
He must hide. He went toward the pond. The frogs made him tremble as they
hastily sprang from under his very feet into the water. There,
notwithstanding his wet feet, he crouched down on his heels, and, began to
recall all he had done,—how he had crept through the hedge, found her
window, and at last caught a glimpse of a white shadow; how several times,
while on the watch for the least noise, he had hastened away from the
window; how at one moment it seemed to him that doubtless she was waiting
for him with vexation in her heart that he was so dilatory, and the next
how impossible it seemed that she would make an appointment with him so
easily; and how, finally coming to the conclusion, that, through the
embarrassment naturally felt by a country maiden, she was only pretending
to be asleep, he had resolutely gone up to the window, and seen clearly her
position, and then suddenly, for some occult reason, had run away again;
and only after a powerful effort of self-control, being ashamed of his
cowardice, he had gone boldly up to her and touched her on the hand.
The watchman again coughed, and, shutting the squeaky gate, went out of the
garden. The window in the young girl's room was shut, and the wooden
shutters inside were drawn.
The count was terribly disappointed to see this. He would have given a good
deal to have a chance to begin it all over again; he would not have acted
"A marvellous girl! what freshness! simply charming! And so I lost her.
Stupid beast that I was."
However, as he was not in the mood to go to sleep yet, he walked, as chance
should lead, along the path, through the linden alley, with the resolute
steps of a man who has been angry. And now for him also this night brought,
as its gifts of reconciliation, a strange, calming melancholy, and a
craving for love.
The clay path, here and there dotted with sprouting grass or dry twigs, was
lighted by patches of pale light where the moon sent its rays straight
through the thick foliage of the lindens. Here and there a bending bough,
apparently overgrown with gray moss, gleamed on one side. The silvered
foliage occasionally rustled.
At the house there was no light in the windows; all sounds were hushed,
only the nightingale filled with his song all the immensity of silent and
"My God! what a night! what a marvellous night!" thought the count,
breathing in the fresh fragrance of the garden. "Something makes me feel
blue, as though I were dissatisfied with myself and with others, and
dissatisfied with my whole life. But what a splendid, dear girl! Perhaps
she was really offended." Here his fancies changed. He imagined himself
there in the garden with this district maiden in various and most
remarkable situations; then his mistress Mina supplanted the maiden's
"What a fool I am! I ought simply to have put my arm around her waist, and
And with this regret the count returned to his room. The cornet was not yet
asleep. He immediately turned over in bed, and looked at the count.
"Aren't you asleep?" asked the count.
"Shall I tell you what happened?"
"No, I'd better not tell you.... Yes, I will too. Move your legs over a
And the count, who had already given up vain regret for his unsuccessful
intrigue, sat down with a gay smile on his comrade's bed. "Could you
imagine that the young lady of the house gave me a rendezvous?"
"What is that you say?" screamed Polózof, leaping up in bed.
"Well, now listen."
"But how? When? It can't be!"
"See here: while you were making out your accounts in préférence, she
told me that she would this night be sitting at the window, and that it was
possible to get in at that window. Now, this is what it means to be a
practical man: while you were there reckoning up with the old woman, I was
arranging this little affair. You yourself heard her say right out in your
presence, that she was going to sit at the window to-night, and look at
"Yes, but she said that without any meaning in it."
"I am not so sure whether she said it purposely or otherwise. Maybe she did
not wish to come at it all at once, only it looked like that. But a
wretched piece of work came out of it. Like a perfect fool I spoilt the
whole thing," he added, scornfully smiling at himself.
"Well, what is it? Where have you been?"
The count told him the whole story, with the exception of his irresolute
and repeated advances. "I spoilt it myself; I ought to have been bolder.
She screamed, and ran away from the window."
"Then she screamed and ran away?" repeated the cornet, replying with a
constrained smile to the count's smile, which had such a long and powerful
influence upon him.
"Yes, but now it's time to go to sleep."
Polózof again turned his back to the door, and lay in silence for ten
minutes. God knows what was going on in his soul; but when he turned over
again, his face was full of passion and resolution.
"Count Turbin," said he in a broken voice.
"Are you dreaming, or not?" replied the count calmly. "What is it, cornet
"Count Turbin, you are a scoundrel," cried Polózof, and he sprang from the
The next day the battalion departed. The officers did not see any of the
household, or bid them farewell. Neither did they speak together.
It was understood that they were to fight their duel when they came to the
next halting-place. But Captain Schultz, a good comrade, an admirable
horseman, who was loved by everybody in the regiment, and had been chosen
by the count for his second, succeeded in arranging the affair in such a
manner that not only they did not fight, but that no one in the regiment
knew about the matter; and Turbin and Polózof, though their old relations
of friendship were never restored, still said "thou," and met at meals and
at the gaming-table.