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Poor Folk

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Translated by

CJ Hogarth

April 8th

MY DEAREST BARBARA ALEXIEVNA--How happy I was last night--how
immeasurablyhow impossibly happy! That was because for once in
your life you had relented so far as to obey my wishes. At about
eight o'clock I awoke from sleep (you knowmy beloved onethat
I always like to sleep for a short hour after my work is done)--I
awokeI sayandlighting a candleprepared my paper to write
and trimmed my pen. Then suddenlyfor some reason or anotherI
raised my eyes--and felt my very heart leap within me! For you
had understood what I wantedyou had understood what my heart
was craving for. YesI perceived that a corner of the curtain in
your window had been looped up and fastened to the cornice as I
had suggested should be done; and it seemed to me that your dear
face was glimmering at the windowand that you were looking at
me from out of the darkness of your roomand that you were
thinking of me. Yet how vexed I felt that I could not distinguish
your sweet face clearly! For there was a time when you and I
could see one another without any difficulty at all. Ah mebut
old age is not always a blessingmy beloved one! At this very
moment everything is standing awry to my eyesfor a man needs
only to work late overnight in his writing of something or other
forin the morninghis eyes to be redand the tears to be
gushing from them in a way that makes him ashamed to be seen
before strangers. HoweverI was able to picture to myself your
beaming smilemy angel--your kindbright smile; and in my heart
there lurked just such a feeling as on the occasion when I first
kissed youmy little Barbara. Do you remember thatmy darling?
Yet somehow you seemed to be threatening me with your tiny
finger. Was it solittle wanton? You must write and tell me
about it in your next letter.

But what think you of the plan of the curtainBarbara? It is a
charming oneis it not? No matter whether I be at workor about
to retire to restor just awaking from sleepit enables me to
know that you are thinking of meand remembering me--that you
are both well and happy. Then when you lower the curtainit
means that it is time that IMakar Alexievitchshould go to
bed; and when again you raise the curtainit means that you are
saying to meGood morning,and asking me how I amand whether
I have slept well. "As for myself adds the curtain, I am
altogether in good health and spiritsglory be to God!" Yesmy
heart's delightyou see how easy a plan it was to deviseand
how much writing it will save us! It is a clever planis it not?
And it was my own inventiontoo! Am I not cunning in such
mattersBarbara Alexievna?

Wellnext let me tell youdearestthat last night I slept

better and more soundly than I had ever hoped to doand that I
am the more delighted at the fact in thatas you knowI had
just settled into a new lodging--a circumstance only too apt to
keep one from sleeping! This morningtooI arose (joyous and
full of love) at cockcrow. How good seemed everything at that
hourmy darling! When I opened my window I could see the sun
shiningand hear the birds singingand smell the air laden with
scents of spring. In shortall nature was awaking to life again.
Everything was in consonance with my mood; everything seemed fair
and spring-like. MoreoverI had a fancy that I should fare well
today. But my whole thoughts were bent upon you. "Surely
thought I, we mortals who dwell in pain and sorrow might with
reason envy the birds of heaven which know not either!" And my
other thoughts were similar to these. In shortI gave myself up
to fantastic comparisons. A little book which I have says the
same kind of thing in a variety of ways. For instanceit says
that one may have manymany fanciesmy Barbara--that as soon as
the spring comes onone's thoughts become uniformly pleasant and
sportive and wittyfor the reason thatat that seasonthe mind
inclines readily to tendernessand the world takes on a more
roseate hue. From that little book of mine I have culled the
following passageand written it down for you to see. In
particular does the author express a longing similar to my own
where he writes:

Why am I not a bird free to seek its quest?

And he has written much elseGod bless him!

But tell memy love--where did you go for your walk this
morning? Even before I had started for the office you had taken
flight from your roomand passed through the courtyard--yes
looking as vernal-like as a bird in spring. What rapture it gave
me to see you! Ahlittle Barbaralittle Barbarayou must never
give way to grieffor tears are of no availnor sorrow. I know
this well--I know it of my own experience. So do you rest quietly
until you have regained your health a little. But how is our good
Thedora? What a kind heart she has! You write that she is now
living with youand that you are satisfied with what she does.
Trueyou say that she is inclined to grumblebut do not mind
thatBarbara. God bless herfor she is an excellent soul!

But what sort of an abode have I lighted uponBarbara Alexievna?
What sort of a tenementdo you thinkis this? Formerlyas you
knowI used to live in absolute stillness--so much so that if a
fly took wing it could plainly be heard buzzing. Herehowever
all is turmoil and shouting and clatter. The PLAN of the tenement
you know already. Imagine a long corridorquite darkand by no
means clean. To the right a dead walland to the left a row of
doors stretching as far as the line of rooms extends. These rooms
are tenanted by different people--by oneby twoor by three
lodgers as the case may bebut in this arrangement there is no
sort of systemand the place is a perfect Noah's Ark. Most of
the lodgers are respectableeducatedand even bookish people.
In particular they include a tchinovnik (one of the literary
staff in some government department)who is so well-read that he
can expound Homer or any other author--in factANYTHINGsuch a
man of talent is he! Alsothere are a couple of officers (for
ever playing cards)a midshipmanand an English tutor. Butto
amuse youdearestlet me describe these people more
categorically in my next letterand tell you in detail about
their lives. As for our landladyshe is a dirty little old woman
who always walks about in a dressing-gown and slippersand never
ceases to shout at Theresa. I myself live in the kitchen--or

ratherin a small room which forms part of the kitchen. The
latter is a very largebrightcleancheerful apartment with
three windows in itand a partition-wall whichrunning outwards
from the front wallmakes a sort of little dena sort of extra
roomfor myself. Everything in this den is comfortable and
convenientand I haveas I saya window to myself. So much for
a description of my dwelling-place. Do not thinkdearestthat
in all this there is any hidden intention. The fact that I live
in the kitchen merely means that I live behind the partition wall
in that apartment--that I live quite aloneand spend my time in
a quiet fashion compounded of trifles. For furniture I have
provided myself with a beda tablea chest of drawersand two
small chairs. AlsoI have suspended an ikon. Truebetter rooms
MAY exist in the world than this--much better rooms; yet COMFORT
is the chief thing. In factI have made all my arrangements for
comfort's sake alone; so do not for a moment imagine that I had
any other end in view. And since your window happens to be just
opposite to mineand since the courtyard between us is narrow
and I can see you as you pass--whythe result is that this
miserable wretch will be able to live at once more happily and
with less outlay. The dearest room in this house costswith
boardthirty-five roubles--more than my purse could well afford;
whereas MY room costs only twenty-fourthough formerly I used to
pay thirtyand so had to deny myself many things (I could drink
tea but seldomand never could indulge in tea and sugar as I do
now). ButsomehowI do not like having to go without teafor
everyone else here is respectableand the fact makes me ashamed.
After allone drinks tea largely to please one's fellow men
Barbaraand to give oneself tone and an air of gentility
(thoughof myselfI care little about such thingsfor I am not
a man of the finicking sort). Yet think you thatwhen all things
needful--boots and the rest--have been paid formuch will
remain? Yet I ought not to grumble at my salary--I am quite
satisfied with it; it is sufficient. It has sufficed me now for
some yearsandin additionI receive certain gratuities.

Well good-byemy darling. I have bought you two little pots of
geraniums--quite cheap little potstoo--as a present. Perhaps
you would also like some mignonette? Mignonette it shall be if
only you will write to inform me of everything in detail. Also
do not misunderstand the fact that I have taken this roommy
dearest. Convenience and nothing elsehas made me do so. The
snugness of the place has caught my fancy. Also. I shall be able
to save money hereand to hoard it against the future. Already I
have saved a little money as a beginning. Nor must you despise me
because I am such an insignificant old fellow that a fly could
break me with its wing. TrueI am not a swashbuckler; but
perhaps there may also abide in me the spirit which should
pertain to every man who is at once resigned and sure of himself.
Good-byethenagainmy angel. I have now covered close upon a
whole two sheets of notepaperthough I ought long ago to have
been starting for the office. I kiss your handsand remain ever
your devoted slaveyour faithful friend


P.S.--One thing I beg of you above all things--and that isthat
you will answer this letter as FULLY as possible. With the letter
I send you a packet of bonbons. Eat them for your health's sake
norfor the love of Godfeel any uneasiness about me. Once
moredearest onegood-bye.

April 8th

MY BELOVED MAKAR ALEXIEVITCH--Do you knowmust quarrel with
you. Yesgood Makar AlexievitchI really cannot accept your
presentsfor I know what they must have cost you--I know to what
privations and self-denial they must have led. How many times
have I not told you that I stand in need of NOTHINGof
absolutely NOTHINGas well as that I shall never be in a
position to recompense you for all the kindly acts with which you
have loaded me? Whyfor instancehave you sent me geraniums? A
little sprig of balsam would not have mattered so much-- but
geraniums! Only have I to let fall an unguarded word--for
exampleabout geraniums--and at once you buy me some! How much
they must have cost you! Yet what a charm there is in themwith
their flaming petals! Wherever did you get these beautiful
plants? I have set them in my window as the most conspicuous
place possiblewhile on the floor I have placed a bench for my
other flowers to stand on (since you are good enough to enrich me
with such presents). UnfortunatelyThedorawhowith her
sweeping and polishingmakes a perfect sanctuary of my roomis
not over-pleased at the arrangement. But why have you sent me
also bonbons? Your letter tells me that something special is
afoot with youfor I find in it so much about paradise and
spring and sweet odours and the songs of birds. Surelythought I
to myself when I received itthis is as good as poetry! Indeed
verses are the only thing that your letter lacksMakar
Alexievitch. And what tender feelings I can read in it--what
roseate-coloured fancies! To the curtainhoweverI had never
given a thought. The fact is that when I moved the flower-pots
it LOOPED ITSELF up. There now!

AhMakar Alexievitchyou neither speak of nor give any account
of what you have spent upon me. You hope thereby to deceive me
to make it seem as though the cost always falls upon you alone
and that there is nothing to conceal. Yet I KNOW that for my sake
you deny yourself necessaries. For instancewhat has made you go
and take the room which you have donewhere you will be worried
and disturbedand where you have neither elbow-space nor
comfort--you who love solitudeand never like to have any one
near you? To judge from your salaryI should think that you
might well live in greater ease than that. AlsoThedora tells me
that your circumstances used to be much more affluent than they
are at present. Do you wishthento persuade me that your whole
existence has been passed in loneliness and want and gloomwith
never a cheering word to help younor a seat in a friend's
chimney-corner? Ahkind comradehow my heart aches for you! But
do not overtask your healthMakar Alexievitch. For instanceyou
say that your eyes are over-weak for you to go on writing in your
office by candle-light. Then why do so? I am sure that your
official superiors do not need to be convinced of your diligence!

Once more I implore you not to waste so much money upon me. I
know how much you love mebut I also know that you are not rich.
. . . This morning I too rose in good spirits. Thedora had long
been at work; and it was time that I too should bestir myself.
Indeed I was yearning to do soso I went out for some silkand
then sat down to my labours. All the morning I felt light-hearted
and cheerful. Yet now my thoughts are once more dark and sad-once
more my heart is ready to sink.

Ahwhat is going to become of me? What will be my fate? To have
to be so uncertain as to the futureto have to be unable to
foretell what is going to happendistresses me deeply. Even to
look back at the past is horriblefor it contains sorrow that

breaks my very heart at the thought of it. Yesa whole century
in tears could I spend because of the wicked people who have
wrecked my life!

But dusk is coming onand I must set to work again. Much else
should I have liked to write to youbut time is lackingand I
must hasten. Of courseto write this letter is a pleasure
enoughand could never be wearisome; but why do you not come to
see me in person? Why do you notMakar Alexievitch? You live so
close to meand at least SOME of your time is your own. I pray
youcome. I have just seen Theresa. She was looking so illand
I felt so sorry for herthat I gave her twenty kopecks. I am
almost falling asleep. Write to me in fullest detailboth
concerning your mode of lifeand concerning the people who live
with youand concerning how you fare with them. I should so like
to know! Yesyou must write again. Tonight I have purposely
looped the curtain up. Go to bed earlyforlast nightI saw
your candle burning until nearly midnight. Goodbye! I am now
feeling sad and weary. Ah that I should have to spend such days
as this one has been. Again good-bye.--Your friend


April 8th

MY DEAREST BARBARA ALEXIEVNA--To think that a day like this
should have fallen to my miserable lot! Surely you are making fun
of an old man? ... Howeverit was my own fault--my own fault
entirely. One ought not to grow old holding a lock of Cupid's
hair in one's hand. Naturally one is misunderstood.... Yet man is
sometimes a very strange being. By all the Saintshe will talk
of doing thingsyet leave them undoneand remain looking the
kind of fool from whom may the Lord preserve us! . . . NayI am
not angrymy beloved; I am only vexed to think that I should
have written to you in such stupidflowery phraseology. Today I
went hopping and skipping to the officefor my heart was under
your influenceand my soul was keeping holidayas it were. Yes
everything seemed to be going well with me. Then I betook myself
to my work. But with what result? I gazed around at the old
familiar objectsat the old familiar grey and gloomy objects.
They looked just the same as before. Yet WERE those the same
inkstainsthe same tables and chairsthat I had hitherto known?
Yesthey WERE the sameexactly the same; so why should I have
gone off riding on Pegasus' back? Whence had that mood arisen? It
had arisen from the fact that a certain sun had beamed upon me
and turned the sky to blue. But why so? Why is itsometimes
that sweet odours seem to be blowing through a courtyard where
nothing of the sort can be? They must be born of my foolish
fancyfor a man may stray so far into sentiment as to forget his
immediate surroundingsand to give way to the superfluity of
fond ardour with which his heart is charged. On the other hand
as I walked home from the office at nightfall my feet seemed to
lagand my head to be aching. Alsoa cold wind seemed to be
blowing down my back (enraptured with the springI had gone out
clad only in a thin overcoat). Yet you have misunderstood my
sentimentsdearest. They are altogether different to what you
suppose. It is a purely paternal feeling that I have for you. I
stand towards you in the position of a relative who is bound to
watch over your lonely orphanhood. This I say in all sincerity
and with a single purposeas any kinsman might do. Forafter
allI AM a distant kinsman of yours--the seventh drop of water
in the puddingas the proverb has it--yet still a kinsmanand

at the present time your nearest relative and protectorseeing
that where you had the right to look for help and protectionyou
found only treachery and insult. As for poetryI may say that I
consider it unbecoming for a man of my years to devote his
faculties to the making of verses. Poetry is rubbish. Even boys
at school ought to be whipped for writing it.

Why do you write thus about "comfort" and "peace" and the rest? I
am not a fastidious mannor one who requires much. Never in my
life have I been so comfortable as now. Whythenshould I
complain in my old age? I have enough to eatI am well dressed
and booted. AlsoI have my diversions. You seeI am not of
noble blood. My father himself was not a gentleman; he and his
family had to live even more plainly than I do. Nor am I a
milksop. Neverthelessto speak franklyI do not like my present
abode so much as I used to like my old one. Somehow the latter
seemed more cosydearest. Of coursethis room is a good one
enough; in factin SOME respects it is the more cheerful and
interesting of the two. I have nothing to say against it--no. Yet
I miss the room that used to be so familiar to me. Old lodgers
like myself soon grow as attached to our chattels as to a
kinsman. My old room was such a snug little place! Trueits
walls resembled those of any other room--I am not speaking of
that; the point is that the recollection of them seems to haunt
my mind with sadness. Curious that recollections should be so
mournful! Even what in that room used to vex me and inconvenience
me now looms in a purified lightand figures in my imagination
as a thing to be desired. We used to live there so quietly--I and
an old landlady who is now dead. How my heart aches to remember
herfor she was a good womanand never overcharged for her
rooms. Her whole time was spent in making patchwork quilts with
knitting-needles that were an arshin [An ell.] long. Oftentimes
we shared the same candle and board. Also she had a
granddaughterMasha--a girl who was then a mere babybut must
now be a girl of thirteen. This little piece of mischiefhow she
used to make us laugh the day long! We lived togethera happy
family of three. Often of a long winter's evening we would first
have tea at the big round tableand then betake ourselves to our
work; the while thatto amuse the child and to keep her out of
mischiefthe old lady would set herself to tell stories. What
stories they were!--though stories less suitable for a child than
for a grown-upeducated person. My word! WhyI myself have sat
listening to themas I smoked my pipeuntil I have forgotten
about work altogether. And thenas the story grew grimmerthe
little childour little bag of mischiefwould grow thoughtful
in proportionand clasp her rosy cheeks in her tiny handsand
hiding her facepress closer to the old landlady. Ahhow I
loved to see her at those moments! As one gazed at her one would
fail to notice how the candle was flickeringor how the storm
was swishing the snow about the courtyard. Yesthat was a goodly
lifemy Barbaraand we lived it for nearly twenty years. . . .
How my tongue does carry me away! Maybe the subject does not
interest youand I myself find it a not over-easy subject to
recall--especially at the present time.

Darkness is fallingand Theresa is busying herself with
something or another. My head and my back are achingand even my
thoughts seem to be in painso strangely do they occur. Yesmy
heart is sad todayBarbara.... What is it you have written to
me? ---"Why do you not come in PERSON to see me?" Dear onewhat
would people say? I should have but to cross the courtyard for
people to begin noticing usand asking themselves questions.
Gossip and scandal would ariseand there would be read into the
affair quite another meaning than the real one. Nolittle angel

it were better that I should see you tomorrow at Vespers. That
will be the better planand less hurtful to us both. Nor must
you chide mebelovedbecause I have written you a letter like
this (reading it throughI see it to be all odds and ends); for
I am an old man nowdear Barbaraand an uneducated one. Little
learning had I in my youthand things refuse to fix themselves
in my brain when I try to learn them anew. NoI am not skilled
in letter-writingBarbaraandwithout being told soor any
one laughing at me for itI know thatwhenever I try to
describe anything with more than ordinary distinctnessI fall
into the mistake of talking sheer rubbish. . . . I saw you at
your window today--yesI saw you as you were drawing down the
blind! Good-byegoodbyelittle Barbaraand may God keep you!
Good-byemy own Barbara Alexievna!--Your sincere friend


P.S.--Do not think that I could write to you in a satirical vein
for I am too old to show my teeth to no purposeand people would
laugh at meand quote our Russian proverb: "Who diggeth a pit
for another onethe same shall fall into it himself."

April 9th

MY DEAREST MAKAR ALEXIEVITCH--Are not youmy friend and
benefactorjust a little ashamed to repine and give way to such
despondency? And surely you are not offended with me? Ah! Though
often thoughtless in my speechI never should have imagined that
you would take my words as a jest at your expense. Rest assured
that NEVER should I make sport of your years or of your
character. Only my own levity is at fault; still morethe fact
that I am so weary of life.

What will such a feeling not engender? To tell you the truthI
had supposed that YOU were jesting in your letter; whereforemy
heart was feeling heavy at the thought that you could feel so
displeased with me. Kind comrade and helperyou will be doing me
an injustice if for a single moment you ever suspect that I am
lacking in feeling or in gratitude towards you. My heartbelieve
meis able to appraise at its true worth all that you have done
for me by protecting me from my enemiesand from hatred and
persecution. Never shall I cease to pray to God for you; and
should my prayers ever reach Him and be received of Heaventhen
assuredly fortune will smile upon you!

Today I am not well. By turns I shiver and flush with heatand
Thedora is greatly disturbed about me. . . . Do not scruple to
come and see meMakar Alexievitch. How can it concern other
people what you do? You and I are well enough acquainted with
each otherand one's own affairs are one's own affairs. Goodbye
Makar Alexievitchfor I have come to the end of all I had to
sayand am feeling too unwell to write more. Again I beg of you
not to be angry with mebut to rest assured of my constant
respect and attachment.--Your humbledevoted servant


April 12th


tell me what ails you. Every one of your letters fills me with
alarm. On the other handin every letter I urge you to be more
careful of yourselfand to wrap up yourself warmlyand to avoid
going out in bad weatherand to be in all things prudent. Yet
you go and disobey me! Ahlittle angelyou are a perfect child!
I know well that you are as weak as a blade of grassand that
no matter what wind blows upon youyou are ready to fade. But
you must be careful of yourselfdearest; you MUST look after
yourself better; you MUST avoid all riskslest you plunge your
friends into desolation and despair.

Dearestyou also express a wish to learn the details of my daily
life and surroundings. That wish I hasten to satisfy. Let me
begin at the beginningsinceby doing soI shall explain
things more systematically. In the first placeon entering this
houseone passes into a very bare halland thence along a
passage to a mean staircase. The reception roomhoweveris
brightcleanand spaciousand is lined with redwood and metalwork.
But the scullery you would not care to see; it is greasy
dirtyand odoriferouswhile the stairs are in ragsand the
walls so covered with filth that the hand sticks fast wherever it
touches them. Alsoon each landing there is a medley of boxes
chairsand dilapidated wardrobes; while the windows have had
most of their panes shatteredand everywhere stand washtubs
filled with dirtlittereggshellsand fish-bladders. The smell
is abominable. In shortthe house is not a nice one.

As to the disposition of the roomsI have described it to you
already. Truethey are convenient enoughyet every one of them
has an ATMOSPHERE. I do not mean that they smell badly so much as
that each of them seems to contain something which gives forth a
ranksickly-sweet odour. At first the impression is an
unpleasant onebut a couple of minutes will suffice to dissipate
itfor the reason that EVERYTHING here smells--people's clothes
handsand everything else--and one grows accustomed to the
rankness. Canarieshoweversoon die in this house. A naval
officer here has just bought his fifth. Birds cannot live long in
such an air. Every morningwhen fish or beef is being cooked
and washing and scrubbing are in progressthe house is filled
with steam. Alwaystoothe kitchen is full of linen hanging out
to dry; and since my room adjoins that apartmentthe smell from
the clothes causes me not a little annoyance. Howeverone can
grow used to anything.

From earliest dawn the house is astir as its inmates risewalk
aboutand stamp their feet. That is to sayeveryone who has to
go to work then gets out of bed. First of alltea is partaken
of. Most of the tea-urns belong to the landlady; and since there
are not very many of themwe have to wait our turn. Anyone who
fails to do so will find his teapot emptied and put away. On the
first occasionthat was what happened to myself. Wellis there
anything else to tell you? Already I have made the acquaintance
of the company here. The naval officer took the initiative in
calling upon meand his frankness was such that he told me all
about his fatherhis motherhis sister (who is married to a
lawyer of Tula)and the town of Kronstadt. Alsohe promised me
his patronageand asked me to come and take tea with him. I kept
the appointment in a room where card-playing is continually in
progress; andafter tea had been drunkefforts were made to
induce me to gamble. Whether or not my refusal seemed to the
company ridiculous I cannot saybut at all events my companions
played the whole eveningand were playing when I left. The dust
and smoke in the room made my eyes ache. I declinedas I sayto
play cardsand wasthereforerequested to discourse on

philosophyafter which no one spoke to me at all--a result which
I did not regret. In factI have no intention of going there
againsince every one is for gamblingand for nothing but
gambling. Even the literary tchinovnik gives such parties in his
room--thoughin his caseeverything is done delicately and with
a certain refinementso that the thing has something of a
retiring and innocent air.

In passingI may tell you that our landlady is NOT a nice woman.
In factshe is a regular beldame. You have seen her onceso
what do you think of her? She is as lanky as a plucked chicken in
consumptionandwith Phaldoni (her servant)constitutes the
entire staff of the establishment. Whether or not Phaldoni has
any other name I do not knowbut at least he answers to this
oneand every one calls him by it. A red-hairedswine-jowled
snub-nosedcrooked louthe is for ever wrangling with Theresa
until the pair nearly come to blows. In shortlife is not overly
pleasant in this place. Never at any time is the household wholly
at restfor always there are people sitting up to play cards.
Sometimestoocertain things are done of which it would be
shameful for me to speak. In particularhardened though I amit
astonishes me that men WITH FAMILIES should care to live in this
Sodom. For examplethere is a family of poor folk who have
rented from the landlady a room which does not adjoin the other
roomsbut is set apart in a corner by itself. Yet what quiet
people they are! Not a sound is to be heard from them. The
father--he is called Gorshkov--is a little grey-headed tchinovnik
whoseven years agowas dismissed from public serviceand now
walks about in a coat so dirty and ragged that it hurts one to
see it. Indeed it is a worse coat even than mine! Alsohe is so
thin and frail (at times I meet him in the corridor) that his
knees quake under himhis hands and head are tremulous with some
disease (God only knows what!)and he so fears and distrusts
everybody that he always walks alone. Reserved though I myself
amhe is even worse. As for his familyit consists of a wife
and three children. The eldest of the latter--a boy--is as frail
as his fatherwhile the mother--a woman whoformerlymust have
been good lookingand still has a striking aspect in spite of
her pallor--goes about in the sorriest of rags. Also I have heard
that they are in debt to our landladyas well as that she is not
overly kind to them. MoreoverI have heard that Gorshkov lost
his post through some unpleasantness or other--through a legal
suit or process of which I could not exactly tell you the nature.
Yesthey certainly are poor--Ohmy Godhow poor! At the same
timenever a sound comes from their room. It is as though not a
soul were living in it. Never does one hear even the children-which
is an unusual thingseeing that children are ever ready to
sport and playand if they fail to do so it is a bad sign. One
evening when I chanced to be passing the door of their roomand
all was quiet in the houseI heard through the door a soband
then a whisperand then another sobas though somebody within
were weepingand with such subdued bitterness that it tore my
heart to hear the sound. In factthe thought of these poor
people never left me all nightand quite prevented me from

Wellgood-byemy little Barbaramy little friend beyond price.
I have described to you everything to the best of my ability. All
today you have been in my thoughts; all today my heart has been
yearning for you. I happen to knowdearest onethat you lack a
warm cloak. To me toothese St. Petersburg springswith their
winds and their snow showersspell death. Good heavenshow the
breezes bite one! Do not be angrybelovedthat I should write
like this. Style I have not. Would that I had! I write just what

wanders into my brainin the hope that I may cheer you up a
little. Of coursehad I had a good educationthings might have
been different; butas things wereI could not have one. Never
did I learn even to do simple sums!--Your faithful and
unchangeable friend


April 25th

MY DEAREST MAKAR ALEXIEVITCH--Today I met my cousin Sasha. To
see her going to wrack and ruin shocked me terribly. Moreoverit
has reached methrough a side windthat she has been making
inquiry for meand dogging my footstepsunder the pretext that
she wishes to pardon meto forget the pastand to renew our
acquaintance. Wellamong other things she told me thatwhereas
you are not a kinsman of minethat she is my nearest relative;
that you have no right whatever to enter into family relations
with us; and that it is wrong and shameful for me to be living
upon your earnings and charity. Alsoshe said that I must have
forgotten all that she did for methough thereby she saved both
myself and my mother from starvationand gave us food and drink;
that for two and a half years we caused her great loss; and
above all thingsthat she excused us what we owed her. Even my
poor mother she did not spare. Would that shemy dead parent
could know how I am being treated! But God knows all about it. .
. . AlsoAnna declared that it was solely through my own fault
that my fortunes declined after she had bettered them; that she
is in no way responsible for what then happened; and that I have
but myself to blame for having been either unable or unwilling to
defend my honour. Great God! WHOthenhas been at fault?
According to AnnaHospodin [Mr.] Bwikov was only right when he
declined to marry a woman who-- But need I say it? It is cruel to
hear such lies as hers. What is to become of me I do not know. I
tremble and sob and weep. Indeedeven to write this letter has
cost me two hours. At least it might have been thought that Anna
would have confessed HER share in the past. Yet see what she
says! ... For the love of God do not be anxious about memy
friendmy only benefactor. Thedora is over apt to exaggerate
matters. I am not REALLY ill. I have merely caught a little cold.
I caught it last night while I was walking to Bolkovoto hear
Mass sung for my mother. Ahmothermy poor mother! Could you
but rise from the grave and learn what is being done to your

B. D.
May 20th

MY DEAREST LITTLE BARBARA--I am sending you a few grapeswhich
are good for a convalescent personand strongly recommended by
doctors for the allayment of fever. Alsoyou were saying the
other day that you would like some roses; whereforeI now send
you a bunch. Are you at all able to eatmy darling?--for that is
the chief point which ought to be seen to. Let us thank God that
the past and all its unhappiness are gone! Yeslet us give
thanks to Heaven for that much! As for booksI cannot get hold
of anyexcept for a book whichwritten in excellent styleis
I believeto be had here. At all eventspeople keep praising it
very muchand I have begged the loan of it for myself. Should

you too like to read it? In this respectindeedI feel nervous
for the reason that it is so difficult to divine what your taste
in books may bedespite my knowledge of your character. Probably
you would like poetry--the poetry of sentiment and of love
making? WellI will send you a book of MY OWN poems. Already I
have copied out part of the manuscript.

Everything with me is going well; so pray do not be anxious on my
accountbeloved. What Thedora told you about me was sheer
rubbish. Tell her from me that she has not been speaking the
truth. Yesdo not fail to give this mischief-maker my message.
It is not the case that I have gone and sold a new uniform. Why
should I do soseeing that I have forty roubles of salary still
to come to me? Do not be uneasymy darling. Thedora is a
vindictive woman--merely a vindictive woman. We shall yet see
better days. Only do you get wellmy angel--only do you get
wellfor the love of Godlest you grieve an old man. Alsowho
told you that I was looking thin? Slanders again--nothing but
slanders! I am as healthy as could beand have grown so fat that
I am ashamed to be so sleek of paunch. Would that you were
equally healthy! . . . Now goodbyemy angel. I kiss every one of
your tiny fingersand remain ever your constant friend


P.S.--But what is thisdearest onethat you have written to me?
Why do you place me upon such a pedestal? Moreoverhow could I
come and visit you frequently? HowI repeat? Of courseI might
avail myself of the cover of night; butalas! the season of the
year is what it isand includes no night time to speak of. In
factalthoughthroughout your illness and deliriumI scarcely
left your side for a momentI cannot think how I contrived to do
the many things that I did. LaterI ceased to visit you at all
for the reason that people were beginning to notice thingsand
to ask me questions. Yeteven soa scandal has arisen. Theresa
I trust thoroughlyfor she is not a talkative woman; but
consider how it will be when the truth comes out in its entirety!
What THEN will folk not say and think? Neverthelessbe of good
cheermy belovedand regain your health. When you have done so
we will contrive to arrange a rendezvous out of doors.

June 1st

MY BELOVED MAKAR ALEXIEVITCH--So eager am I to do something that
will please and divert you in return for your carefor your
ceaseless efforts on my behalf--in shortfor your love for me-that
I have decided to beguile a leisure hour for you by delving
into my lockerand extracting thence the manuscript which I send
you herewith. I began it during the happier period of my life
and have continued it at intervals since. So often have you asked
me about my former existence--about my motherabout Pokrovski
about my sojourn with Anna Thedorovnaabout my more recent
misfortunes; so often have you expressed an earnest desire to
read the manuscript in which (God knows why) I have recorded
certain incidents of my lifethat I feel no doubt but that the
sending of it will give you sincere pleasure. Yet somehow I feel
depressed when I read itfor I seem now to have grown twice as
old as I was when I penned its concluding lines. AhMakar
Alexievitchhow weary I am--how this insomnia tortures me!
Convalescence is indeed a hard thing to bear!

B. D.


UP to the age of fourteenwhen my father diedmy childhood was
the happiest period of my life. It began very far away from herein
the depths of the province of Tulawhere my father filled the
position of steward on the vast estates of the Prince P--. Our
house was situated in one of the Prince's villagesand we lived
a quietobscurebut happylife. A gay little child was I--my
one idea being ceaselessly to run about the fields and the woods
and the garden. No one ever gave me a thoughtfor my father was
always occupied with business affairsand my mother with her
housekeeping. Nor did any one ever give me any lessons--a
circumstance for which I was not sorry. At earliest dawn I would
hie me to a pond or a copseor to a hay or a harvest field
where the sun could warm meand I could roam wherever I liked
and scratch my hands with bushesand tear my clothes in pieces.
For this I used to get blamed afterwardsbut I did not care.

Had it befallen me never to quit that village--had it befallen me
to remain for ever in that spot--I should always have been happy;
but fate ordained that I should leave my birthplace even before
my girlhood had come to an end. In shortI was only twelve years
old when we removed to St. Petersburg. Ah! how it hurts me to
recall the mournful gatherings before our departureand to
recall how bitterly I wept when the time came for us to say
farewell to all that I had held so dear! I remember throwing
myself upon my father's neckand beseeching him with tears to
stay in the country a little longer; but he bid me be silentand
my motheradding her tears to mineexplained that business
matters compelled us to go. As a matter of factold Prince P-had
just diedand his heirs had dismissed my father from his
post; whereuponsince he had a little money privately invested
in St. Petersburghe bethought him that his personal presence in
the capital was necessary for the due management of his affairs.
It was my mother who told me this. Consequently we settled here
in St. Petersburgand did not again move until my father died.

How difficult I found it to grow accustomed to my new life! At
the time of our removal to St. Petersburg it was autumn--a season
whenin the countrythe weather is clear and keen and bright
all agricultural labour has come to an endthe great sheaves of
corn are safely garnered in the byreand the birds are flying
hither and thither in clamorous flocks. Yesat that season the
country is joyous and fairbut here in St. Petersburgat the
time when we reached the citywe encountered nothing but rain
bitter autumn frostsdull skiesuglinessand crowds of
strangers who looked hostilediscontentedand disposed to take
offence. Howeverwe managed to settle down--though I remember
that in our new home there was much noise and confusion as we set
the establishment in order. After this my father was seldom at
homeand my mother had few spare moments; whereforeI found
myself forgotten.

The first morning after our arrivalwhen I awoke from sleephow
sad I felt! I could see that our windows looked out upon a drab
space of walland that the street below was littered with filth.
Passers-by were fewand as they walked they kept muffling
themselves up against the cold.

Then there ensued days when dullness and depression reigned
supreme. Scarcely a relative or an acquaintance did we possess in
St. Petersburgand even Anna Thedorovna and my father had come
to loggerheads with one anotherowing to the fact that he owed

her money. In factour only visitors were business callersand
as a rule these came but to wrangleto argueand to raise a
disturbance. Such visits would make my father look very
discontentedand seem out of temper. For hours and hours he
would pace the room with a frown on his face and a brooding
silence on his lips. Even my mother did not dare address him at
these timeswhilefor my own partI used to sit reading
quietly and humbly in a corner--not venturing to make a movement
of any sort.

Three months after our arrival in St. Petersburg I was sent to a
boarding-school. Here I found myself thrown among strange people;
here everything was grim and uninvitingwith teachers
continually shouting at meand my fellow-pupils for ever holding
me up to derisionand myself constantly feeling awkward and
uncouth. How stricthow exacting was the system! Appointed hours
for everythinga common tableever-insistent teachers! These
things simply worried and tortured me. Never from the first could
I sleepbut used to weep many a chillweary night away. In the
evenings everyone would have to repeat or to learn her lessons.
As I crouched over a dialogue or a vocabularywithout daring
even to stirhow my thoughts would turn to the chimney-corner at
hometo my fatherto my motherto my old nurseto the tales
which the latter had been used to tell! How sad it all was! The
memory of the merest trifle at home would please meand I would
think and think how nice things used to be at home. Once more I
would be sitting in our little parlour at tea with my parents--in
the familiar little parlour where everything was snug and warm!
How ardentlyhow convulsively I would seem to be embracing my
mother! Thus I would ponderuntil at length tears of sorrow
would softly gush forth and choke my bosomand drive the lessons
out of my head. For I never could master the tasks of the morrow;
no matter how much my mistress and fellow-pupils might gird at
meno matter how much I might repeat my lessons over and over to
myselfknowledge never came with the morning. ConsequentlyI
used to be ordered the kneeling punishmentand given only one
meal in the day. How dull and dispirited I used to feel! From the
first my fellow-pupils used to tease and deride and mock me
whenever I was saying my lessons. Alsothey used to pinch me as
we were on our way to dinner or teaand to make groundless
complaints of me to the head mistress. On the other handhow
heavenly it seemed whenon Saturday eveningmy old nurse
arrived to fetch me! How I would embrace the old woman in
transports of joy! After dressing meand wrapping me upshe
would find that she could scarcely keep pace with me on the way
homeso full was I of chatter and tales about one thing and
another. Thenwhen I had arrived home merry and lighthearted
how fervently I would embrace my parentsas though I had not
seen them for ten years. Such a fussing would there be--such a
talking and a telling of tales! To everyone I would run with a
greetingand laughand giggleand scamper aboutand skip for
very joy. Truemy father and I used to have grave conversations
about lessons and teachers and the French language and grammar;
yet we were all very happy and contented together. Even now it
thrills me to think of those moments. For my father's sake I
tried hard to learn my lessonsfor I could see that he was
spending his last kopeck upon meand himself subsisting God
knows how. Every day he grew more morose and discontented and
irritable; every day his character kept changing for the worse.
He had suffered an influx of debtsnor were his business affairs
prospering. As for my mothershe was afraid even to say a word
or to weep aloudfor fear of still further angering him.
Gradually she sickenedgrew thinner and thinnerand became
taken with a painful cough. Whenever I reached home from school I

would find every one low-spiritedand my mother shedding silent
tearsand my father raging. Bickering and high words would
ariseduring which my father was wont to declare thatthough he
no longer derived the smallest pleasure or relaxation from life
and had spent his last coin upon my educationI had not yet
mastered the French language. In shorteverything began to go
wrongto turn to unhappiness; and for that circumstancemy
father took vengeance upon myself and my mother. How he could
treat my poor mother so I cannot understand. It used to rend my
heart to see herso hollow were her cheeks becomingso sunken
her eyesso hectic her face. But it was chiefly around myself
that the disputes raged. Though beginning only with some trifle
they would soon go on to God knows what. Frequentlyeven I
myself did not know to what they related. Anything and everything
would enter into themfor my father would say that I was an
utter dunce at the French language; that the head mistress of my
school was a stupidcommon sort of women who cared nothing for
morals; that he (my father) had not yet succeeded in obtaining
another post; that Lamonde's "Grammar" was a wretched book--even
a worse one than Zapolski's; that a great deal of money had been
squandered upon me; that it was clear that I was wasting my time
in repeating dialogues and vocabularies; that I alone was at
faultand that I must answer for everything. Yet this did not
arise from any WANT OF LOVE for me on the part of my fatherbut
rather from the fact that he was incapable of putting himself in
my own and my mother's place. It came of a defect of character.

All these cares and worries and disappointments tortured my poor
father until he became moody and distrustful. Next he began to
neglect his health. with the result thatcatching a chillhe
diedafter a short illnessso suddenly and unexpectedly that
for a few days we were almost beside ourselves with the shock -my
motherin particularlying for a while in such a state of
torpor that I had fears for her reason. The instant my father was
dead creditors seemed to spring up out of the groundand to
assail us en masse. Everything that we possessed had to be
surrendered to themincluding a little house which my father had
bought six months after our arrival in St. Petersburg. How
matters were finally settled I do not knowbut we found
ourselves rooflessshelterlessand without a copper. My mother
was grievously illand of means of subsistence we had none.
Before us there loomed only ruinsheer ruin. At the time I was
fourteen years old. Soon afterwards Anna Thedorovna came to see
ussaying that she was a lady of property and our relative; and
this my mother confirmed--thoughtrueshe added that Anna was
only a very DISTANT relative. Anna had never taken the least
notice of us during my father's lifetimeyet now she entered our
presence with tears in her eyesand an assurance that she meant
to better our fortunes. Having condoled with us on our loss and
destitute positionshe added that my father had been to blame
for everythingin that he had lived beyond his meansand taken
upon himself more than he was able to perform. Alsoshe
expressed a wish to draw closer to usand to forget old scores;
and when my mother explained thatfor her own partshe
harboured no resentment against Annathe latter burst into
tearsandhurrying my mother away to churchthen and there
ordered Mass to be said for the "dear departed as she called my
father. In this manner she effected a solemn reconciliation with
my mother.

Next, after long negotiations and vacillations, coupled with much
vivid description of our destitute position, our desolation, and
our helplessness, Anna invited us to pay her (as she expressed
it) a return visit." For this my mother duly thanked herand

considered the invitation for a while; after whichseeing that
there was nothing else to be doneshe informed Anna Thedorovna
that she was preparedgratefullyto accept her offer. Ahhow I
remember the morning when we removed to Vassilievski Island! [A
quarter of St. Petersburg.] It was a cleardryfrosty morning
in autumn. My mother could not restrain her tearsand I too felt
depressed. Naymy very heart seemed to be breaking under a
strangeundefined load of sorrow. How terrible it all seemed! .
. .

AT first--that is to sayuntil my mother and myself grew used to
our new abode--we found living at Anna Thedorovna's both strange
and disagreeable. The house was her ownand contained five
roomsthree of which she shared with my orphaned cousinSasha
(whom she had brought up from babyhood); a fourth was occupied by
my mother and myself; and the fifth was rented of Anna by a poor
student named Pokrovski. Although Anna lived in good style--in
far better style than might have been expected--her means and her
avocation were conjectural. Never was she at rest; never was she
not busy with some mysterious something or other. Alsoshe
possessed a wide and varied circle of friends. The stream of
callers was perpetual--although God only knows who they wereor
what their business was. No sooner did my mother hear the doorbell
ring than off she would carry me to our own apartment. This
greatly displeased Annawho used again and again to assure my
mother that we were too proud for our station in life. In fact
she would sulk for hours about it. At the time I could not
understand these reproachesand it was not until long afterwards
that I learned--or ratherI guessed--why eventually my mother
declared that she could not go on living with Anna. YesAnna was
a bad woman. Never did she let us alone. As to the exact motive
why she had asked us to come and share her house with her I am
still in the dark. At first she was not altogether unkind to us
butlatershe revealed to us her real character--as soonthat
is to sayas she saw that we were at her mercyand had nowhere
else to go. Yesin early days she was quite kind to me--even
offensively sobut afterwardsI had to suffer as much as my
mother. Constantly did Anna reproach us; constantly did she
remind us of her benefactionsand introduce us to her friends as
poor relatives of hers whomout of goodness of heart and for the
love of Christshe had received into her bosom. At tablealso
she would watch every mouthful that we took; andif our appetite
failedimmediately she would begin as beforeand reiterate that
we were over-daintythat we must not assume that riches would
mean happinessand that we had better go and live by ourselves.
Moreovershe never ceased to inveigh against my father--saying
that he had sought to be better than other peopleand thereby
had brought himself to a bad end; that he had left his wife and
daughter destitute; and thatbut for the fact that we had
happened to meet with a kind and sympathetic Christian soulGod
alone knew where we should have laid our headssave in the
street. What did that woman not say? To hear her was not so much
galling as disgusting. From time to time my mother would burst
into tearsher health grew worse from day to dayand her body
was becoming sheer skin and bone. All the whiletoowe had to
work--to work from morning till nightfor we had contrived to
obtain some employment as occasional sempstresses. Thishowever
did not please Annawho used to tell us that there was no room
in her house for a modiste's establishment. Yet we had to get
clothes to wearto provide for unforeseen expensesand to have
a little money at our disposal in case we should some day wish to
remove elsewhere. Unfortunatelythe strain undermined my

mother's healthand she became gradually weaker. Sicknesslike
a cankerwormwas gnawing at her lifeand dragging her towards
the tomb. Well could I see what she was enduringwhat she was
suffering. Yesit all lay open to my eyes.

Day succeeded dayand each day was like the last one. We lived a
life as quiet as though we had been in the country. Anna herself
grew quieter in proportion as she came to realise the extent of
her power over us. In nothing did we dare to thwart her. From her
portion of the house our apartment was divided by a corridor
while next to us (as mentioned above) dwelt a certain Pokrovski
who was engaged in teaching Sasha the French and German
languagesas well as history and geography--"all the sciences
as Anna used to say. In return for these services he received
free board and lodging. As for Sasha, she was a clever, but rude
and uncouth, girl of thirteen. On one occasion Anna remarked to
my mother that it might be as well if I also were to take some
lessons, seeing that my education had been neglected at school;
and, my mother joyfully assenting, I joined Sasha for a year in
studying under this Pokrovski.

The latter was a poor--a very poor--young man whose health would
not permit of his undertaking the regular university course.
Indeed, it was only for form's sake that we called him The
Student." He lived in such a quiethumbleretiring fashion that
never a sound reached us from his room. Alsohis exterior was
peculiar--he moved and walked awkwardlyand uttered his words in
such a strange manner that at first I could never look at him
without laughing. Sasha was for ever playing tricks upon him-more
especially when he was giving us our lessons. But
unfortunatelyhe was of a temperament as excitable as herself.
Indeedhe was so irritable that the least trifle would send him
into a frenzyand set him shouting at usand complaining of our
conduct. Sometimes he would even rush away to his room before
school hours were overand sit there for days over his booksof
which he had a store that was both rare and valuable. In
additionhe acted as teacher at another establishmentand
received payment for his services there; andwhenever he had
received his fees for this extra workhe would hasten off and
purchase more books.

In time I got to know and like him betterfor in reality he was
a goodworthy fellow--more so than any of the people with whom
we otherwise came in contact. My mother in particular had a great
respect for himandafter herselfhe was my best friend. But
at first I was just an overgrown hoydenand joined Sasha in
playing the fool. For hours we would devise tricks to anger and
distract himfor he looked extremely ridiculous when he was
angryand so diverted us the more (ashamed though I am now to
admit it). But oncewhen we had driven him nearly to tearsI
heard him say to himself under his breathWhat cruel children!
and instantly I repented--I began to feel sad and ashamed and
sorry for him. I reddened to my earsand begged himalmost with
tearsnot to mind usnor to take offence at our stupid jests.
Neverthelesswithout finishing the lessonhe closed his book
and departed to his own room. All that day I felt torn with
remorse. To think that we two children had forced himthe poor
the unhappy oneto remember his hard lot! And at night I could
not sleep for grief and regret. Remorse is said to bring relief
to the soulbut it is not so. How far my grief was internally
connected with my conceit I do not knowbut at least I did not
wish him to think me a babyseeing that I had now reached the
age of fifteen years. Thereforefrom that day onwards I began to
torture my imagination with devising a thousand schemes which

should compel Pokrovski to alter his opinion of me. At the same
timebeing yet shy and reserved by natureI ended by finding
thatin my present positionI could make up my mind to nothing
but vague dreams (and such dreams I had). HoweverI ceased to
join Sasha in playing the foolwhile Pokrovskifor his part
ceased to lose his temper with us so much. Unfortunately this was
not enough to satisfy my self-esteem.

At this pointI must say a few words about the strangestthe
most interestingthe most pitiable human being that I have ever
come across. I speak of him now--at this particular point in
these memoirs--for the reason that hitherto I had paid him no
attention whateverand began to do so now only because
everything connected with Pokrovski had suddenly become of
absorbing interest in my eyes.

Sometimes there came to the house a raggedpoorly-dressedgrey-
headedawkwardamorphous--in shorta very strange-looking-little
old man. At first glance it might have been thought that
he was perpetually ashamed of something--that he had on his
conscience something which always made himas it werebristle
up and then shrink into himself. Such curious starts and grimaces
did he indulge in that one was forced to conclude that he was
scarcely in his right mind. On arrivinghe would halt for a
while by the window in the hallas though afraid to enter;
untilshould any one happen to pass in or out of the door-whether
Sasha or myself or one of the servants (to the latter he
always resorted the most readilyas being the most nearly akin
to his own class)--he would begin to gesticulate and to beckon to
that personand to make various signs. Thenshould the person
in question nod to himor call him by name (the recognised token
that no other visitor was presentand that he might enter
freely)he would open the door gentlygive a smile of
satisfaction as he rubbed his hands togetherand proceed on
tiptoe to young Pokrovski's room. This old fellow was none other
than Pokrovski's father.

Later I came to know his story in detail. Formerly a civil
servanthe had possessed no additional meansand so had
occupied a very low and insignificant position in the service.
Thenafter his first wife (mother of the younger Pokrovski) had
diedthe widower bethought him of marrying a second timeand
took to himself a tradesman's daughterwho soon assumed the
reins over everythingand brought the home to rack and ruinso
that the old man was worse off than before. But to the younger
Pokrovskifate proved kinderfor a landowner named Bwikovwho
had formerly known the lad's father and been his benefactortook
the boy under his protectionand sent him to school. Another
reason why this Bwikov took an interest in young Pokrovski was
that he had known the lad's dead motherwhowhile still a
serving-maidhad been befriended by Anna Thedorovnaand
subsequently married to the elder Pokrovski. At the wedding
Bwikovactuated by his friendship for Annaconferred upon the
young bride a dowry of five thousand roubles; but whither that
money had since disappeared I cannot say. It was from Anna's lips
that I heard the storyfor the student Pokrovski was never prone
to talk about his family affairs. His mother was said to have
been very good-looking; whereforeit is the more mysterious why
she should have made so poor a match. She died when young--only
four years after her espousal.

From school the young Pokrovski advanced to a gymnasium
[Secondary school.] and thence to the Universitywhere Bwikov
who frequently visited the capitalcontinued to accord the youth

his protection. Graduallyhoweverill health put an end to the
young man's university course; whereupon Bwikov introduced and
personally recommended him to Anna Thedorovnaand he came to
lodge with her on condition that he taught Sasha whatever might
be required of him.

Grief at the harshness of his wife led the elder Pokrovski to
plunge into dissipationand to remain in an almost permanent
condition of drunkenness. Constantly his wife beat himor sent
him to sit in the kitchen-- with the result that in timehe
became so inured to blows and neglectthat he ceased to
complain. Still not greatly advanced in yearshe had
nevertheless endangered his reason through evil courses--his only
sign of decent human feeling being his love for his son. The
latter was said to resemble his dead mother as one pea may
resemble another. What recollectionsthereforeof the kind
helpmeet of former days may not have moved the breast of the poor
broken old man to this boundless affection for the boy? Of naught
else could the father ever speak but of his sonand never did he
fail to visit him twice a week. To come oftener he did not dare
for the reason that the younger Pokrovski did not like these
visits of his father's. In factthere can be no doubt that the
youth's greatest fault was his lack of filial respect. Yet the
father was certainly rather a difficult person to deal withfor
in the first placehe was extremely inquisitivewhilein the
second placehis long-winded conversation and questions-questions
of the most vapid and senseless order conceivable-always
prevented the son from working. Likewisethe old man
occasionally arrived there drunk. Graduallyhoweverthe son was
weaning his parent from his vicious ways and everlasting
inquisitivenessand teaching the old man to look upon himhis
sonas an oracleand never to speak without that son's

On the subject of his Petinkaas he called himthe poor old man
could never sufficiently rhapsodise and dilate. Yet when he
arrived to see his son he almost invariably had on his face a
downcasttimid expression that was probably due to uncertainty
concerning the way in which he would be received. For a long time
he would hesitate to enterand if I happened to be there he
would question me for twenty minutes or so as to whether his
Petinka was in good healthas well as to the sort of mood he was
inwhether he was engaged on matters of importancewhat
precisely he was doing (writing or meditating)and so on. Then
when I had sufficiently encouraged and reassured the old manhe
would make up his mind to enterand quietly and cautiously open
the door. Nexthe would protrude his head through the chinkand
if he saw that his son was not angrybut threw him a nodhe
would glide noiselessly into the roomtake off his scarfand
hang up his hat (the latter perennially in a bad state of repair
full of holesand with a smashed brim)--the whole being done
without a word or a sound of any kind. Nextthe old man would
seat himself warily on a chairandnever removing his eyes from
his sonfollow his every movementas though seeking to gauge
Petinka's state of mind. On the other handif the son was not in
good spiritsthe father would make a note of the factand at
once get upsaying that he had "only called for a minute or
two that, having been out for a long walkand happening at
the moment to be passing he had looked in for a moment's
rest." Then silently and humbly the old man would resume his hat
and scarf; softly he would open the doorand noiselessly depart
with a forced smile on his face--the better to bear the
disappointment which was seething in his breastthe better to
help him not to show it to his son.

On the other handwhenever the son received his father civilly
the old man would be struck dumb with joy. Satisfaction would
beam in his facein his every gesturein his every movement.
And if the son deigned to engage in conversation with himthe
old man always rose a little from his chairand answered softly
sympatheticallywith something like reverencewhile strenuously
endeavouring to make use of the most recherche (that is to say
the most ridiculous) expressions. Butalas! He had not the gift
of words. Always he grew confusedand turned red in the face;
never did he know what to do with his hands or with himself.
Likewisewhenever he had returned an answer of any kindhe
would go on repeating the same in a whisperas though he were
seeking to justify what he had just said. And if he happened to
have returned a good answerhe would begin to preen himselfand
to straighten his waistcoatfrockcoat and tieand to assume an
air of conscious dignity. Indeedon these occasions he would
feel so encouragedhe would carry his daring to such a pitch
thatrising softly from his chairhe would approach the
bookshelvestake thence a bookand read over to himself some
passage or another. All this he would do with an air of feigned
indifference and sangfroidas though he were free ALWAYS to use
his son's booksand his son's kindness were no rarity at all.
Yet on one occasion I saw the poor old fellow actually turn pale
on being told by his son not to touch the books. Abashed and
confusedhein his awkward hurryreplaced the volume wrong
side uppermost; whereuponwith a supreme effort to recover
himselfhe turned it round with a smile and a blushas though
he were at a loss how to view his own misdemeanour. Graduallyas
already saidthe younger Pokrovski weaned his father from his
dissipated ways by giving him a small coin wheneveron three
successive occasionshe (the father) arrived sober. Sometimes
alsothe younger man would buy the older one shoesor a tieor
a waistcoat; whereafterthe old man would be as proud of his
acquisition as a peacock. Not infrequentlyalsothe old man
would step in to visit ourselvesand bring Sasha and myself
gingerbread birds or appleswhile talking unceasingly of
Petinka. Always he would beg of us to pay attention to our
lessonson the plea that Petinka was a good sonan exemplary
sona son who was in twofold measure a man of learning; after
which he would wink at us so quizzingly with his left eyeand
twist himself about in such amusing fashionthat we were forced
to burst out laughing. My mother had a great liking for himbut
he detested Anna Thedorovna--although in her presence he would be
quieter than water and lowlier than the earth.

Soon after this I ceased to take lessons of Pokrovski. Even now
he thought me a childa raw schoolgirlas much as he did Sasha;
and this hurt me extremelyseeing that I had done so much to
expiate my former behaviour. Of my efforts in this direction no
notice had been takenand the fact continued to anger me more
and more. Scarcely ever did I address a word to my tutor between
school hoursfor I simply could not bring myself to do it. If I
made the attempt I only grew red and confusedand rushed away to
weep in a corner. How it would all have ended I do not knowhad
not a curious incident helped to bring about a rapprochement. One
eveningwhen my mother was sitting in Anna Thedorovna's roomI
crept on tiptoe to Pokrovski's apartmentin the belief that he
was not at home. Some strange impulse moved me to do so. Truewe
had lived cheek by jowl with one another; yet never once had I
caught a glimpse of his abode. Consequently my heart beat loudly

-so loudlyindeedthat it seemed almost to be bursting from my
breast. On entering the room I glanced around me with tense
interest. The apartment was very poorly furnishedand bore few

traces of orderliness. On table and chairs there lay heaps of
books; everywhere were books and papers. Then a strange thought
entered my headas well aswith the thoughtan unpleasant
feeling of irritation. It seemed to me that my friendshipmy
heart's affectionmeant little to himfor HE was well-educated
whereas I was stupidand had learned nothingand had read not a
single book. So I stood looking wistfully at the long bookshelves
where they groaned under their weight of volumes. I felt filled
with griefdisappointmentand a sort of frenzy. I felt that I
MUST read those booksand decided to do so--to read them one by
oneand with all possible speed. Probably the idea was thatby
learning whatsoever HE knewI should render myself more worthy
of his friendship. SoI made a rush towards the bookcase nearest
meandwithout stopping further to consider mattersseized
hold of the first dusty tome upon which my hands chanced to
alightandreddening and growing pale by turnsand trembling
with fear and excitementclasped the stolen book to my breast
with the intention of reading it by candle light while my mother
lay asleep at night.

But how vexed I felt whenon returning to our own roomand
hastily turning the pagesonly an oldbattered worm-eaten Latin
work greeted my eyes! Without loss of time I retraced my steps.
Just when I was about to replace the book I heard a noise in the
corridor outsideand the sound of footsteps approaching.
Fumblingly I hastened to complete what I was aboutbut the
tiresome book had become so tightly wedged into its row thaton
being pulled outit caused its fellows to close up too compactly
to leave any place for their comrade. To insert the book was
beyond my strength; yet still I kept pushing and pushing at the
row. At last the rusty nail which supported the shelf (the thing
seemed to have been waiting on purpose for that moment!) broke
off short; with the result that the shelf descended with a crash
and the books piled themselves in a heap on the floor! Then the
door of the room openedand Pokrovski entered!

I must here remark that he never could bear to have his
possessions tampered with. Woe to the personin particularwho
touched his books! Judgethereforeof my horror when books
small and greatbooks of every possible shape and size and
thicknesscame tumbling from the shelfand flew and sprang over
the tableand under the chairsand about the whole room. I
would have turned and fledbut it was too late. "All is over!"
thought I. "All is over! I am ruinedI am undone! Here have I
been playing the fool like a ten-year-old child! What a stupid
girl I am! The monstrous fool!"

IndeedPokrovski was very angry. "What? Have you not done
enough?" he cried. "Are you not ashamed to be for ever indulging
in such pranks? Are you NEVER going to grow sensible?" With that
he darted forward to pick up the bookswhile I bent down to help

You need not, you need not!he went on. "You would have done
far better not to have entered without an invitation."

Nexta little mollified by my humble demeanourhe resumed in
his usual tutorial tone--the tone which he had adopted in his
new- found role of preceptor:

When are you going to grow steadier and more thoughtful?
Consider yourself for a moment. You are no longer a child, a
little girl, but a maiden of fifteen.

Thenwith a desire (probably) to satisfy himself that I was no
longer a being of tender yearshe threw me a glance--but
straightway reddened to his very ears. This I could not
understandbut stood gazing at him in astonishment. Presently
he straightened himself a littleapproached me with a sort of
confused expressionand haltingly said something--probably it
was an apology for not having before perceived that I was now a
grown-up young person. But the next moment I understood. What I
did I hardly knowsave thatin my dismay and confusionI
blushed even more hotly than he had done andcovering my face
with my handsrushed from the room.

What to do with myself for shame I could not think. The one
thought in my head was that he had surprised me in his room. For
three whole days I found myself unable to raise my eyes to his
but blushed always to the point of weeping. The strangest and
most confused of thoughts kept entering my brain. One of them-the
most extravagant--was that I should dearly like to go to
Pokrovskiand to explain to him the situationand to make full
confessionand to tell him everything without concealmentand
to assure him that I had not acted foolishly as a minxbut
honestly and of set purpose. In factI DID make up my mind to
take this coursebut lacked the necessary courage to do it. If I
had done sowhat a figure I should have cut! Even now I am
ashamed to think of it.

A few days latermy mother suddenly fell dangerously ill. For
two days past she had not left her bedwhile during the third
night of her illness she became seized with fever and delirium. I
also had not closed my eyes during the previous nightbut now
waited upon my mothersat by her bedbrought her drink at
intervalsand gave her medicine at duly appointed hours. The
next night I suffered terribly. Every now and then sleep would
cause me to nodand objects grow dim before my eyes. Alsomy
head was turning dizzyand I could have fainted for very
weariness. Yet always my mother's feeble moans recalled me to
myself as I startedmomentarily awokeand then again felt
drowsiness overcoming me. What torture it was! I do not knowI
cannot clearly rememberbut I think thatduring a moment when
wakefulness was thus contending with slumbera strange dreama
horrible visionvisited my overwrought brainand I awoke in
terror. The room was nearly in darknessfor the candle was
flickeringand throwing stray beams of light which suddenly
illuminated the roomdanced for a moment on the wallsand then
disappeared. Somehow I felt afraid--a sort of horror had come
upon me--my imagination had been over-excited by the evil dream
which I had experiencedand a feeling of oppression was crushing
my heart.... I leapt from the chairand involuntarily uttered a
cry--a cry wrung from me by the terribletorturing sensation
that was upon me. Presently the door openedand Pokrovski

I remember that I was in his arms when I recovered my senses.
Carefully seating me on a benchhe handed me a glass of water
and then asked me a few questions--though how I answered them I
do not know. "You yourself are ill he said as he took my hand.
You yourself are VERY ill. You are feverishand I can see that
you are knocking yourself out through your neglect of your own
health. Take a little rest. Lie down and go to sleep. Yeslie
downlie down he continued without giving me time to protest.
Indeed, fatigue had so exhausted my strength that my eyes were
closing from very weakness. So I lay down on the bench with the
intention of sleeping for half an hour only; but, I slept till
morning. Pokrovski then awoke me, saying that it was time for me

to go and give my mother her medicine.

When the next evening, about eight o'clock, I had rested a little
and was preparing to spend the night in a chair beside my mother
(fixedly meaning not to go to sleep this time), Pokrovski
suddenly knocked at the door. I opened it, and he informed me
that, since, possibly, I might find the time wearisome, he had
brought me a few books to read. I accepted the books, but do not,
even now, know what books they were, nor whether I looked into
them, despite the fact that I never closed my eyes the whole
night long. The truth was that a strange feeling of excitement
was preventing me from sleeping, and I could not rest long in any
one spot, but had to keep rising from my chair, and walking about
the room. Throughout my whole being there seemed to be diffused a
kind of elation--of elation at Pokrovski's attentions, at the
thought that he was anxious and uneasy about me. Until dawn I
pondered and dreamed; and though I felt sure Pokrovski would not
again visit us that night, I gave myself up to fancies concerning
what he might do the following evening.

That evening, when everyone else in the house had retired to
rest, Pokrovski opened his door, and opened a conversation from
the threshold of his room. Although, at this distance of time, I
cannot remember a word of what we said to one another, I remember
that I blushed, grew confused, felt vexed with myself, and
awaited with impatience the end of the conversation although I
myself had been longing for the meeting to take place, and had
spent the day in dreaming of it, and devising a string of
suitable questions and replies. Yes, that evening saw the first
strand in our friendship knitted; and each subsequent night of my
mother's illness we spent several hours together. Little by
little I overcame his reserve, but found that each of these
conversations left me filled with a sense of vexation at myself.
At the same time, I could see with secret joy and a sense of
proud elation that I was leading him to forget his tiresome
books. At last the conversation turned jestingly upon the
upsetting of the shelf. The moment was a peculiar one, for it
came upon me just when I was in the right mood for self-
revelation and candour. In my ardour, my curious phase of
exaltation, I found myself led to make a full confession of the
fact that I had become wishful to learn, to KNOW, something,
since I had felt hurt at being taken for a chit, a mere baby. . .
. I repeat that that night I was in a very strange frame of mind.
My heart was inclined to be tender, and there were tears standing
in my eyes. Nothing did I conceal as I told him about my
friendship for him, about my desire to love him, about my scheme
for living in sympathy with him and comforting him, and making
his life easier. In return he threw me a look of confusion
mingled with astonishment, and said nothing. Then suddenly I
began to feel terribly pained and disappointed, for I conceived
that he had failed to understand me, or even that he might be
laughing at me. Bursting into tears like a child, I sobbed, and
could not stop myself, for I had fallen into a kind of fit;
whereupon he seized my hand, kissed it, and clasped it to his
breast--saying various things, meanwhile, to comfort me, for he
was labouring under a strong emotion. Exactly what he said I do
not remember--I merely wept and laughed by turns, and blushed,
and found myself unable to speak a word for joy. Yet, for all my
agitation, I noticed that about him there still lingered an air
of constraint and uneasiness. Evidently, he was lost in wonder at
my enthusiasm and raptures--at my curiously ardent, unexpected,
consuming friendship. It may be that at first he was amazed, but
that afterwards he accepted my devotion and words of invitation
and expressions of interest with the same simple frankness as I

had offered them, and responded to them with an interest, a
friendliness, a devotion equal to my own, even as a friend or a
brother would do. How happy, how warm was the feeling in my
heart! Nothing had I concealed or repressed. No, I had bared all
to his sight, and each day would see him draw nearer to me.

Truly I could not say what we did not talk about during those
painful, yet rapturous, hours when, by the trembling light of a
lamp, and almost at the very bedside of my poor sick mother, we
kept midnight tryst. Whatsoever first came into our heads we
spoke of--whatsoever came riven from our hearts, whatsoever
seemed to call for utterance, found voice. And almost always we
were happy. What a grievous, yet joyous, period it was--a period
grievous and joyous at the same time! To this day it both hurts
and delights me to recall it. Joyous or bitter though it was, its
memories are yet painful. At least they seem so to me, though a
certain sweetness assuaged the pain. So, whenever I am feeling
heartsick and oppressed and jaded and sad those memories return
to freshen and revive me, even as drops of evening dew return to
freshen and revive, after a sultry day, the poor faded flower
which has long been drooping in the noontide heat.

My mother grew better, but still I continued to spend the nights
on a chair by her bedside. Often, too, Pokrovski would give me
books. At first I read them merely so as to avoid going to sleep,
but afterwards I examined them with more attention, and
subsequently with actual avidity, for they opened up to me a new,
an unexpected, an unknown, an unfamiliar world. New thoughts,
added to new impressions, would come pouring into my heart in a
rich flood; and the more emotion, the more pain and labour, it
cost me to assimilate these new impressions, the dearer did they
become to me, and the more gratefully did they stir my soul to
its very depths. Crowding into my heart without giving it time
even to breathe, they would cause my whole being to become lost
in a wondrous chaos. Yet this spiritual ferment was not
sufficiently strong wholly to undo me. For that I was too
fanciful, and the fact saved me.

With the passing of my mother's illness the midnight meetings and
long conversations between myself and Pokrovski came to an end.
Only occasionally did we exchange a few words with one another-words,
for the most part, that were of little purport or
substance, yet words to which it delighted me to apportion their
several meanings, their peculiar secret values. My life had now
become full-- I was happy; I was quietly, restfully happy. Thus
did several weeks elapse....

One day the elder Pokrovski came to see us, and chattered in a
brisk, cheerful, garrulous sort of way. He laughed, launched out
into witticisms, and, finally, resolved the riddle of his
transports by informing us that in a week's time it would be his
Petinka's birthday, when, in honour of the occasion, he (the
father) meant to don a new jacket (as well as new shoes which his
wife was going to buy for him), and to come and pay a visit to
his son. In short, the old man was perfectly happy, and gossiped
about whatsoever first entered his head.

My lover's birthday! Thenceforward, I could not rest by night or
day. Whatever might happen, it was my fixed intention to remind
Pokrovski of our friendship by giving him a present. But what
sort of present? Finally, I decided to give him books. I knew
that he had long wanted to possess a complete set of Pushkin's
works, in the latest edition; so, I decided to buy Pushkin. My
private fund consisted of thirty roubles, earned by handiwork,

and designed eventually to procure me a new dress, but at once I
dispatched our cook, old Matrena, to ascertain the price of such
an edition. Horrors! The price of the eleven volumes, added to
extra outlay upon the binding, would amount to at least SIXTY
roubles! Where was the money to come from? I thought and thought,
yet could not decide. I did not like to resort to my mother. Of
course she would help me, but in that case every one in the house
would become aware of my gift, and the gift itself would assume
the guise of a recompense--of payment for Pokrovski's labours on
my behalf during the past year; whereas, I wished to present the
gift ALONE, and without the knowledge of anyone. For the trouble
that he had taken with me I wished to be his perpetual debtor--to
make him no payment at all save my friendship. At length, I
thought of a way out of the difficulty.

I knew that of the hucksters in the Gostinni Dvor one could
sometimes buy a book--even one that had been little used and was
almost entirely new--for a half of its price, provided that one
haggled sufficiently over it; wherefore I determined to repair
thither. It so happened that, next day, both Anna Thedorovna and
ourselves were in want of sundry articles; and since my mother
was unwell and Anna lazy, the execution of the commissions
devolved upon me, and I set forth with Matrena.

Luckily, I soon chanced upon a set of Pushkin, handsomely bound,
and set myself to bargain for it. At first more was demanded than
would have been asked of me in a shop; but afterwards--though not
without a great deal of trouble on my part, and several feints at
departing--I induced the dealer to lower his price, and to limit
his demands to ten roubles in silver. How I rejoiced that I had
engaged in this bargaining! Poor Matrena could not imagine what
had come to me, nor why I so desired to buy books. But, oh horror
of horrors! As soon as ever the dealer caught sight of my capital
of thirty roubles in notes, he refused to let the Pushkin go for
less than the sum he had first named; and though, in answer to my
prayers and protestations, he eventually yielded a little, he did
so only to the tune of two-and-a-half roubles more than I
possessed, while swearing that he was making the concession for
my sake alone, since I was a sweet young lady and that he
would have done so for no one else in the world. To think that
only two-and-a-half roubles should still be wanting! I could have
wept with vexation. Suddenly an unlooked-for circumstance
occurred to help me in my distress.

Not far away, near another table that was heaped with books, I
perceived the elder Pokrovski, and a crowd of four or five
hucksters plaguing him nearly out of his senses. Each of these
fellows was proffering the old man his own particular wares; and
while there was nothing that they did not submit for his
approval, there was nothing that he wished to buy. The poor old
fellow had the air of a man who is receiving a thrashing. What to
make of what he was being offered him he did not know.
Approaching him, I inquired what he happened to be doing there;
whereat the old man was delighted, since he liked me (it may be)
no less than he did Petinka.

I am buying some booksBarbara Alexievna said he, I am
buying them for my Petinka. It will be his birthday soonand
since he likes books I thought I would get him some. "

The old man always expressed himself in a very roundabout sort of
fashionand on the present occasion he was doublyterribly
confused. Of no matter what book he asked the priceit was sure
to be onetwoor three roubles. The larger books he could not

afford at all; he could only look at them wistfullyfumble their
leaves with his fingerturn over the volumes in his handsand
then replace them. "Nonothat is too dear he would mutter
under his breath. I must go and try somewhere else." Then again
he would fall to examining copy-bookscollections of poemsand
almanacs of the cheaper order.

Why should you buy things like those?I asked him. "They are
such rubbish!"

No, no!he replied. " See what nice books they are! Yesthey
ARE nice books!" Yet these last words he uttered so lingeringly
that I could see he was ready to weep with vexation at finding
the better sorts of books so expensive. Already a little tear was
trickling down his pale cheeks and red nose. I inquired whether
he had much money on him; whereupon the poor old fellow pulled
out his entire stockwrapped in a piece of dirty newspaperand
consisting of a few small silver coinswith twenty kopecks in
copper. At once I seized the lotanddragging him off to my
huckstersaid: " Look here. These eleven volumes of Pushkin are
priced at thirty-two-and-a-half roublesand I have only thirty
roubles. Let us add to them these two-and- a-half roubles of
yoursand buy the books togetherand make them our joint gift."
The old man was overjoyedand pulled out his money en masse;
whereupon the huckster loaded him with our common library.
Stuffing it into his pocketsas well as filling both arms with
ithe departed homewards with his prizeafter giving me his
word to bring me the books privately on the morrow.

Next day the old man came to see his sonand sat with himas
usualfor about an hour; after which he visited ourselves
wearing on his face the most comicalthe most mysterious
expression conceivable. Smiling broadly with satisfaction at the
thought that he was the possessor of a secrethe informed me
that he had stealthily brought the books to our roomsand hidden
them in a corner of the kitchenunder Matrena's care. Nextby a
natural transitionthe conversation passed to the coming fete-
day; whereuponthe old man proceeded to hold forth extensively
on the subject of gifts. The further he delved into his thesis
and the more he expounded itthe clearer could I see that on his
mind there was something which he could notdared notdivulge.
So I waited and kept silent. The mysterious exaltationthe
repressed satisfaction which I had hitherto discerned in his
antics and grimaces and left-eyed winks gradually disappeared
and he began to grow momentarily more anxious and uneasy. At
length he could contain himself no longer.

Listen, Barbara Alexievna,he said timidly. "Listen to what I
have got to say to you. When his birthday is comedo you take
TEN of the booksand give them to him yourself--that isFOR
yourselfas being YOUR share of the gift. Then I will take the
eleventh bookand give it to him MYSELFas being my gift. If we
do thatyou will have a present for him and I shall have one-both
of us alike."

Why do you not want us to present our gifts together, Zachar
Petrovitch?I asked him.

Oh, very well,he replied. "Very wellBarbara Alexievna. Only-
onlyI thought that--"

The old man broke off in confusionwhile his face flushed with
the exertion of thus expressing himself. For a moment or two he
sat glued to his seat.

You see,he went onI play the fool too much. I am forever
playing the fool, and cannot help myself, though I know that it
is wrong to do so. At home it is often cold, and sometimes there
are other troubles as well, and it all makes me depressed. Well,
whenever that happens, I indulge a little, and occasionally drink
too much. Now, Petinka does not like that; he loses his temper
about it, Barbara Alexievna, and scolds me, and reads me
lectures. So I want by my gift to show him that I am mending my
ways, and beginning to conduct myself better. For a long time
past, I have been saving up to buy him a book--yes, for a long
time past I have been saving up for it, since it is seldom that I
have any money, unless Petinka happens to give me some. He knows
that, and, consequently, as soon as ever he perceives the use to
which I have put his money, he will understand that it is for his
sake alone that I have acted.

My heart ached for the old man. Seeing him looking at me with
such anxietyI made up my mind without delay.

I tell you what,I said. "Do you give him all the books."

ALL?he ejaculated. "ALL the books?"

Yes, all of them.

As my own gift?Yes, as your own gift.

As my gift alone?

Yes, as your gift alone.

Surely I had spoken clearly enoughyet the old man seemed hardly
to understand me.

Well,said he after reflectionthat certainly would be
splendid--certainly it would be most splendid. But what about
yourself, Barbara Alexievna?

Oh, I shall give your son nothing.

What?he cried in dismay. "Are you going to give Petinka
nothing--do you WISH to give him nothing?" So put about was the
old fellow with what I had saidthat he seemed almost ready to
renounce his own proposal if only I would give his son something.
What a kind heart he had! I hastened to assure him that I should
certainly have a gift of some sort readysince my one wish was
to avoid spoiling his pleasure.

Provided that your son is pleased,I addedand that you are
pleased, I shall be equally pleased, for in my secret heart I
shall feel as though I had presented the gift.

This fully reassured the old man. He stopped with us another
couple of hoursyet could not sit still for a momentbut kept
jumping up from his seatlaughingcracking jokes with Sasha
bestowing stealthy kisses upon myselfpinching my handsand
making silent grimaces at Anna Thedorovna. At lengthshe turned
him out of the house. In shorthis transports of joy exceeded
anything that I had yet beheld.

On the festal day he arrived exactly at eleven o'clockdirect
from Mass. He was dressed in a carefully mended frockcoata new
waistcoatand a pair of new shoeswhile in his arms he carried

our pile of books. Next we all sat down to coffee (the day being
Sunday) in Anna Thedorovna's parlour. The old man led off the
meal by saying that Pushkin was a magnificent poet. Thereafter
with a return to shamefacedness and confusionhe passed suddenly
to the statement that a man ought to conduct himself properly;
thatshould he not do soit might be taken as a sign that he
was in some way overindulging himself; and that evil tendencies
of this sort led to the man's ruin and degradation. Then the
orator sketched for our benefit some terrible instances of such
incontinenceand concluded by informing us that for some time
past he had been mending his own waysand conducting himself in
exemplary fashionfor the reason that he had perceived the
justice of his son's preceptsand had laid them to heart so well
that hethe fatherhad really changed for the better: in proof
whereofhe now begged to present to the said son some books for
which he had long been setting aside his savings.

As I listened to the old man I could not help laughing and crying
in a breath. Certainly he knew how to lie when the occasion
required! The books were transferred to his son's roomand
arranged upon a shelfwhere Pokrovski at once guessed the truth
about them. Then the old man was invited to dinner and we all
spent a merry day together at cards and forfeits. Sasha was full
of lifeand I rivalled herwhile Pokrovski paid me numerous
attentionsand kept seeking an occasion to speak to me alone.
But to allow this to happen I refused. Yestaken all in allit
was the happiest day that I had known for four years.

But now only grievouspainful memories come to my recollection
for I must enter upon the story of my darker experiences. It may
be that that is why my pen begins to move more slowlyand seems
as though it were going altogether to refuse to write. The same
reason may account for my having undertaken so lovingly and
enthusiastically a recounting of even the smallest details of my
youngerhappier days. But alas! those days did not last long
and were succeeded by a period of black sorrow which will close
only God knows when!

My misfortunes began with the illness and death of Pokrovskiwho
was taken worse two months after what I have last recorded in
these memoirs. During those two months he worked hard to procure
himself a livelihood since hitherto he had had no assured
position. Like all consumptiveshe never--not even up to his
last moment--altogether abandoned the hope of being able to enjoy
a long life. A post as tutor fell in his waybut he had never
liked the profession; while for him to become a civil servant was
out of the questionowing to his weak state of health. Moreover
in the latter capacity he would have had to have waited a long
time for his first instalment of salary. Againhe always looked
at the darker side of thingsfor his character was gradually
being warpedand his health undermined by his illnessthough he
never noticed it. Then autumn came onand daily he went out to
business--that is to sayto apply for and to canvass for posts-clad
only in a light jacket; with the result thatafter repeated
soakings with rainhe had to take to his bedand never again
left it. He died in mid-autumn at the close of the month of

Throughout his illness I scarcely ever left his roombut waited
on him hand and foot. Often he could not sleep for several nights
at a time. Oftentoohe was unconsciousor else in a delirium;
and at such times he would talk of all sorts of things--of his
workof his booksof his fatherof myself. At such times I
learned much which I had not hitherto known or divined about his

affairs. During the early part of his illness everyone in the
house looked askance at meand Anna Thedorovna would nod her
head in a meaning manner; butI always looked them straight in
the faceand gradually they ceased to take any notice of my
concern for Pokrovski. At all events my mother ceased to trouble
her head about it.

Sometimes Pokrovski would know who I wasbut not oftenfor more
usually he was unconscious. Sometimestoohe would talk all
night with some unknown personin dimmysterious language that
caused his gasping voice to echo hoarsely through the narrow room
as through a sepulchre; and at such timesI found the situation
a strange one. During his last night he was especially
lightheadedfor then he was in terrible agonyand kept rambling
in his speech until my soul was torn with pity. Everyone in the
house was alarmedand Anna Thedorovna fell to praying that God
might soon take him. When the doctor had been summonedthe
verdict was that the patient would die with the morning.

That night the elder Pokrovski spent in the corridorat the door
of his son's room. Though given a mattress to lie uponhe spent
his time in running in and out of the apartment. So broken with
grief was he that he presented a dreadful spectacleand appeared
to have lost both perception and feeling. His head trembled with
agonyand his body quivered from head to foot as at times he
murmured to himself something which he appeared to be debating.
Every moment I expected to see him go out of his mind. Just
before dawn he succumbed to the stress of mental agonyand fell
asleep on his mattress like a man who has been beaten; but by
eight o'clock the son was at the point of deathand I ran to
wake the father. The dying man was quite consciousand bid us
all farewell. Somehow I could not weepthough my heart seemed to
be breaking.

The last moments were the most harassing and heartbreaking of
all. For some time past Pokrovski had been asking for something
with his failing tonguebut I had been unable to distinguish his
words. Yet my heart had been bursting with grief. Then for an
hour he had lain quieterexcept that he had looked sadly in my
directionand striven to make some sign with his death-cold
hands. At last he again essayed his piteous request in a hoarse
deep voicebut the words issued in so many inarticulate sounds
and once more I failed to divine his meaning. By turns I brought
each member of the household to his bedsideand gave him
something to drinkbut he only shook his head sorrowfully.
FinallyI understood what it was he wanted. He was asking me to
draw aside the curtain from the windowand to open the
casements. Probably he wished to take his last look at the
daylight and the sun and all God's world. I pulled back the
curtainbut the opening day was as dull and mournful--looking as
though it had been the fast-flickering life of the poor invalid.
Of sunshine there was none. Clouds overlaid the sky as with a
shroud of mistand everything looked sadrainyand threatening
under a fine drizzle which was beating against the window-panes
and streaking their dulldark surfaces with runlets of cold
dirty moisture. Only a scanty modicum of daylight entered to war
with the trembling rays of the ikon lamp. The dying man threw me
a wistful lookand nodded. The next moment he had passed away.

The funeral was arranged for by Anna Thedorovna. A plain coffin
was boughtand a broken-down hearse hired; whileas security
for this outlayshe seized the dead man's books and other
articles. Neverthelessthe old man disputed the books with her
andraising an uproarcarried off as many of them as he could-

stuffing his pockets fulland even filling his hat. Indeedhe
spent the next three days with them thusand refused to let them
leave his sight even when it was time for him to go to church.
Throughout he acted like a man bereft of sense and memory. With
quaint assiduity he busied himself about the bier--now
straightening the candlestick on the dead man's breastnow
snuffing and lighting the other candles. Clearly his thoughts
were powerless to remain long fixed on any subject. Neither my
mother nor Anna Thedorovna were present at the requiemfor the
former was ill and the latter was at loggerheads with the old
man. Only myself and the father were there. During the service a
sort of panica sort of premonition of the futurecame over me
and I could hardly hold myself upright. At length the coffin had
received its burden and was screwed down; after which the bearers
placed it upon a bierand set out. I accompanied the cortege
only to the end of the street. Here the driver broke into a trot
and the old man started to run behind the hearse--sobbing loudly
but with the motion of his running ever and anon causing the sobs
to quaver and become broken off. Next he lost his hatthe poor
old fellowyet would not stop to pick it upeven though the
rain was beating upon his headand a wind was rising and the
sleet kept stinging and lashing his face. It seemed as though he
were impervious to the cruel elements as he ran from one side of
the hearse to the other--the skirts of his old greatcoat flapping
about him like a pair of wings. From every pocket of the garment
protruded bookswhile in his hand he carried a specially large
volumewhich he hugged closely to his breast. The passers-by
uncovered their heads and crossed themselves as the cortege
passedand some of themhaving done soremained staring in
amazement at the poor old man. Every now and then a book would
slip from one of his pockets and fall into the mud; whereupon
somebodystopping himwould direct his attention to his loss
and he would stoppick up the bookand again set off in pursuit
of the hearse. At the corner of the street he was joined by a
ragged old woman; until at length the hearse turned a cornerand
became hidden from my eyes. Then I went homeand threw myself
in a transport of griefupon my mother's breast--clasping her in
my armskissing her amid a storm of sobs and tearsand clinging
to her form as though in my embraces I were holding my last
friend on earththat I might preserve her from death. Yet
already death was standing over her....

June 11th

How I thank you for our walk to the Islands yesterdayMakar
Alexievitch! How fresh and pleasanthow full of verdurewas
everything! And I had not seen anything green for such a long
time! During my illness I used to think that I should never get
betterthat I was certainly going to die. Judgethenhow I
felt yesterday! TrueI may have seemed to you a little sadand
you must not be angry with me for that. Happy and light-hearted
though I wasthere were momentseven at the height of my
felicitywhenfor some unknown reasondepression came sweeping
over my soul. I kept weeping about triflesyet could not say why
I was grieved. The truth is that I am unwell--so much sothat I
look at everything from the gloomy point of view. The paleclear
skythe setting sunthe evening stillness--ahsomehow I felt
disposed to grieve and feel hurt at these things; my heart seemed
to be over-chargedand to be calling for tears to relieve it.
But why should I write this to you? It is difficult for my heart
to express itself; still more difficult for it to forego self-
expression. Yet possibly you may understand me. Tears and
laughter! . . . How good you areMakar Alexievitch! Yesterday
you looked into my eyes as though you could read in them all that

I was feeling--as though you were rejoicing at my happiness.
Whether it were a group of shrubs or an alleyway or a vista of
water that we were passingyou would halt before meand stand
gazing at my face as though you were showing me possessions of
your own. It told me how kind is your natureand I love you for
it. Today I am again unwellfor yesterday I wetted my feetand
took a chill. Thedora also is unwell; both of us are ailing. Do
not forget me. Come and see me as often as you can.--Your own


June 12th.

MY DEAREST BARBARA ALEXIEVNA--I had supposed that you meant to
describe our doings of the other day in verse; yet from you there
has arrived only a single sheet of writing. NeverthelessI must
say thatlittle though you have put into your letterthat
little is not expressed with rare beauty and grace. Natureyour
descriptions of rural scenesyour analysis of your own feelings-
the whole is beautifully written. AlasI have no such talent!
Though I may fill a score of pagesnothing comes of it-- I might
as well never have put pen to paper. Yesthis I know from

You saymy darlingthat I am kind and goodthat I could not
harm my fellow-menthat I have power to comprehend the goodness
of God (as expressed in nature's handiwork)and so on. It may
all be somy dearest one--it may all be exactly as you say.
IndeedI think that you are right. But if sothe reason is that
when one reads such a letter as you have just sent meone's
heart involuntarily softensand affords entrance to thoughts of
a graver and weightier order. Listenmy darling; I have
something to tell youmy beloved one.

I will begin from the time when I was seventeen years old and
first entered the service--though I shall soon have completed my
thirtieth year of official activity. I may say that at first I
was much pleased with my new uniform; andas I grew olderI
grew in mindand fell to studying my fellow-men. Likewise I may
say that I lived an upright life--so much so that at last I
incurred persecution. This you may not believebut it is true.
To think that men so cruel should exist! For thoughdearest one
I am dull and of no accountI have feelings like everyone else.
Consequentlywould you believe itBarbarawhen I tell you what
these cruel fellows did to me? I feel ashamed to tell it you--and
all because I was of a quietpeacefulgood-natured disposition!

Things began with "this or thatMakar Alexievitchis your
fault." Then it went on to "I need hardly say that the fault is
wholly Makar Alexievitch's." Finally it became "OF COURSE Makar
Alexievitch is to blame." Do you see the sequence of thingsmy
darling? Every mistake was attributed to meuntil "Makar
Alexievitch" became a byword in our department. Alsowhile
making of me a proverbthese fellows could not give me a smile
or a civil word. They found fault with my bootswith my uniform
with my hairwith my figure. None of these things were to their
taste: everything had to be changed. And so it has been from that
day to this. TrueI have now grown used to itfor I can grow
accustomed to anything (beingas you knowa man of peaceable
dispositionlike all men of small stature)-- yet why should
these things be? Whom have I harmed? Whom have I ever supplanted?
Whom have I ever traduced to his superiors? Nothe fault is that
more than once I have asked for an increase of salary. But have I
ever CABALLED for it? Noyou would be wrong in thinking somy

dearest one. HOW could I ever have done so? You yourself have had
many opportunities of seeing how incapable I am of deceit or

Why thenshould this have fallen to my lot? . . . Howeversince
you think me worthy of respectmy darlingI do not carefor
you are far and away the best person in the world. . . . What do
you consider to be the greatest social virtue? In private
conversation Evstafi Ivanovitch once told me that the greatest
social virtue might be considered to be an ability to get money
to spend. Alsomy comrades used jestingly (yesI know only
jestingly) to propound the ethical maxim that a man ought never
to let himself become a burden upon anyone. WellI am a burden
upon no one. It is my own crust of bread that I eat; and though
that crust is but a poor oneand sometimes actually a maggoty
oneit has at least been EARNEDand thereforeis being put to
a right and lawful use. What thereforeought I to do? I know
that I can earn but little by my labours as a copyist; yet even
of that little I am proudfor it has entailed WORKand has
wrung sweat from my brow. What harm is there in being a copyist?
He is only an amanuensis,people say of me. But what is there
so disgraceful in that? My writing is at least legibleneatand
pleasant to look upon--and his Excellency is satisfied with it.
IndeedI transcribe many important documents. At the same time
I know that my writing lacks STYLEwhich is why I have never
risen in the service. Even to youmy dear oneI write simply
and without tricksbut just as a thought may happen to enter my
head. YesI know all this; but if everyone were to become a fine
writerwho would there be left to act as copyists? . . .
Whatsoever questions I may put to you in my lettersdearestI
pray you to answer them. I am sure that you need methat I can
be of use to you; andsince that is soI must not allow myself
to be distracted by any trifle. Even if I be likened to a ratI
do not careprovided that that particular rat be wanted by you
and be of use in the worldand be retained in its positionand
receive its reward. But what a rat it is!

Enough of thisdearest one. I ought not to have spoken of it
but I lost my temper. Stillit is pleasant to speak the truth
sometimes. Goodbyemy ownmy darlingmy sweet little
comforter! I will come to you soon--yesI will certainly come to
you. Until I do sodo not fret yourself. With me I shall be
bringing a book. Once more goodbye.--Your heartfelt well-wisher


June 20th.

MY DEAREST MAKAR ALEXIEVITCH--I am writing to you post-haste--I
am hurrying my utmost to get my work finished in time. What do
you suppose is the reason for this? It is because an opportunity
has occurred for you to make a splendid purchase. Thedora tells
me that a retired civil servant of her acquaintance has a uniform
to sell--one cut to regulation pattern and in good repairas
well as likely to go very cheap. NowDO not tell me that you
have not got the moneyfor I know from your own lips that you
HAVE. Use that moneyI pray youand do not hoard it. See what
terrible garments you walk about in! They are shameful--they are
patched all over! In factyou have nothing new whatever. That
this is soI know for certainand I care not WHAT you tell me
about it. So listen to me for onceand buy this uniform. Do it
for MY sake. Do it to show that you really love me.

You have sent me some linen as a gift. But listen to meMakar

Alexievitch. You are simply ruining yourself. Is it a jest that
you should spend so much moneysuch a terrible amount of money
upon me? How you love to play the spendthrift! I tell you that I
do not need itthat such expenditure is unnecessary. I knowI
am CERTAINthat you love me-- thereforeit is useless to remind
me of the fact with gifts. Nor do I like receiving themsince I
know how much they must have cost you. No-- put your money to a
better use. I begI beseech of youto do so. Alsoyou ask me
to send you a continuation of my memoirs--to conclude them. But I
know not how I contrived even to write as much of them as I did;
and now I have not the strength to write further of my pastnor
the desire to give it a single thought. Such recollections are
terrible to me. Most difficult of all is it for me to speak of my
poor motherwho left her destitute daughter a prey to villains.
My heart runs blood whenever I think of it; it is so fresh in my
memory that I cannot dismiss it from my thoughtsnor rest for
its insistencealthough a year has now elapsed since the events
took place. But all this you know.

AlsoI have told you what Anna Thedorovna is now intending. She
accuses me of ingratitudeand denies the accusations made
against herself with regard to Monsieur Bwikov. Alsoshe keeps
sending for meand telling me that I have taken to evil courses
but that if I will return to hershe will smooth over matters
with Bwikovand force him to confess his fault. Alsoshe says
that he desires to give me a dowry. Away with them all! I am
quite happy here with you and good Thedorawhose devotion to me
reminds me of my old nurselong since dead. Distant kinsman
though you may beI pray you always to defend my honour. Other
people I do not wish to knowand would gladly forget if I could.
. . . What are they wanting with me now? Thedora declares it all
to be a trickand says that in time they will leave me alone.
God grant it be so!

B. D.
June 21st.

MY OWNMY DARLING--I wish to write to youyet know not where
to begin. Things are as strange as though we were actually living
together. Also I would add that never in my life have I passed
such happy days as I am spending at present. 'Tis as though God
had blessed me with a home and a family of my own! Yesyou are
my little daughterbeloved. But why mention the four sorry
roubles that I sent you? You needed them; I know that from
Thedora herselfand it will always be a particular pleasure to
me to gratify you in anything. It will always be my one happiness
in life. Praythereforeleave me that happinessand do not
seek to cross me in it. Things are not as you suppose. I have now
reached the sunshine sincein the first placeI am living so
close to you as almost to be with you (which is a great
consolation to my mind)whilein the second placea neighbour
of mine named Rataziaev (the retired official who gives the
literary parties) has today invited me to tea. This evening
thereforethere will be a gathering at which we shall discuss
literature! Think of that my darling! Wellgoodbye now. I have
written this without any definite aim in my mindbut solely to
assure you of my welfare. Through Theresa I have received your
message that you need an embroidered cloak to wearso I will go
and purchase one. Yestomorrow I mean to purchase that
embroidered cloakand so give myself the pleasure of having
satisfied one of your wants. I know where to go for such a

garment. For the time being I remain your sincere friend


June 22nd.

MY DEAREST BARBARA ALEXIEVNA--I have to tell you that a sad
event has happened in this house--an event to excite one's utmost
pity. This morningabout five o'clockone of Gorshkov's
children died of scarlatinaor something of the kind. I have
been to pay the parents a visit of condolenceand found them
living in the direst poverty and disorder. Nor is that
surprisingseeing that the family lives in a single roomwith
only a screen to divide it for decency's sake. Already the coffin
was standing in their midst--a plain but decent shell which had
been bought ready-made. The childthey told mehad been a boy
of nineand full of promise. What a pitiful spectacle! Though
not weepingthe motherpoor womanlooked broken with grief.
After allto have one burden the less on their shoulders may
prove a reliefthough there are still two children left--a babe
at the breast and a little girl of six! How painful to see these
suffering childrenand to be unable to help them! The father
clad in an olddirty frockcoatwas seated on a dilapidated
chair. Down his cheeks there were coursing tears--though less
through grief than owing to a long-standing affliction of the
eyes. He was so thintoo! Always he reddens in the face when he
is addressedand becomes too confused to answer. A little girl
his daughterwas leaning against the coffin--her face looking so
worn and thoughtfulpoor mite! Do you knowI cannot bear to see
a child look thoughtful. On the floor there lay a rag dollbut
she was not playing with it asmotionlessshe stood there with
her finger to her lips. Even a bon-bon which the landlady had
given her she was not eating. Is it not all sadsadBarbara?


June 25th.

MY BELOVED MAKAR ALEXIEVITCH--I return you your book. In my
opinion it is a worthless oneand I would rather not have it in
my possession. Why do you save up your money to buy such trash?
Except in jestdo such books really please you? Howeveryou
have now promised to send me something else to read. I will share
the cost of it. Nowfarewell until we meet again. I have nothing
more to say.

B. D.
June 26th.

MY DEAR LITTLE BARBARA--To tell you the truthI myself have not
read the book of which you speak. That is to saythough I began
to read itI soon saw that it was nonsenseand written only to
make people laugh. "However thought I, it is at least a
CHEERFUL workand so may please Barbara." That is why I sent it

Rataziaev has now promised to give me something really literary

to read; so you shall soon have your bookmy darling. He is a
man who reflects; he is a clever fellowas well as himself a
writer--such a writer! His pen glides along with easeand in
such a style (even when he is writing the most ordinarythe most
insignificant of articles) that I have often remarked upon the
factboth to Phaldoni and to Theresa. OftentooI go to spend
an evening with him. He reads aloud to us until five o'clock in
the morningand we listen to him. It is a revelation of things
rather than a reading. It is charmingit is like a bouquet of
flowers--there is a bouquet of flowers in every line of each
page. Besideshe is such an approachablecourteouskindhearted
fellow! What am I compared with him? Whynothingsimply
nothing! He is a man of reputationwhereas I--wellI do not
exist at all. Yet he condescends to my level. At this very moment
I am copying out a document for him. But you must not think that
he finds any DIFFICULTY in condescending to mewho am only a
copyist. Noyou must not believe the base gossip that you may
hear. I do copying work for him simply in order to please myself
as well as that he may notice me--a thing that always gives me
pleasure. I appreciate the delicacy of his position. He is a
good--a very good--manand an unapproachable writer.

What a splendid thing is literatureBarbara--what a splendid
thing! This I learnt before I had known Rataziaev even for three
days. It strengthens and instructs the heart of man. . . . No
matter what there be in the worldyou will find it all written
down in Rataziaev's works. And so well written downtoo!
Literature is a sort of picture--a sort of picture or mirror. It
connotes at once passionexpressionfine criticismgood
learningand a document. YesI have learned this from Rataziaev
himself. I can assure youBarbarathat if only you could be
sitting among usand listening to the talk (whilewith the rest
of usyou smoked a pipe)and were to hear those present begin
to argue and dispute concerning different mattersyou would feel
of as little account among them as I do; for I myself figure
there only as a blockheadand feel ashamedsince it takes me a
whole evening to think of a single word to interpolate--and even
then the word will not come! In a case like that a man regrets
thatas the proverb has ithe should have reached man's estate
but not man's understanding. . . . What do I do in my spare time?
I sleep like a foolthough I would far rather be occupied with
something else--saywith eating or writingsince the one is
useful to oneselfand the other is beneficial to one's fellows.
You should see how much money these fellows contrive to save! How
muchfor instancedoes not Rataziaev lay by? A few days'
writingI am toldcan earn him as much as three hundred
roubles! Indeedif a man be a writer of short stories or
anything else that is interestinghe can sometimes pocket five
hundred roublesor a thousandat a time! Think of itBarbara!
Rataziaev has by him a small manuscript of versesand for it he
is asking--what do you think? Seven thousand roubles! Whyone
could buy a whole house for that sum! He has even refused five
thousand for a manuscriptand on that occasion I reasoned with
himand advised him to accept the five thousand. But it was of
no use. "For said he, they will soon offer me seven thousand
and kept to his point, for he is a man of some determination.

Suppose, now, that I were to give you an extract from Passion in
Italy" (as another work of his is called). Read thisdearest
Barbaraand judge for yourself:

Vladimir started, for in his veins the lust of passion had
welled until it had reached boiling point.

'Countess' he cried'do you know how terrible is this
adoration of minehow infinite this madness? No! My fancies have
not deceived me--I love you ecstaticallydiabolicallyas a
madman might! All the blood that is in your husband's body could
never quench the furioussurging rapture that is in my soul! No
puny obstacle could thwart the all-destroyinginfernal flame
which is eating into my exhausted breast! 0h Zinaidamy

'Vladimir!' she whispered, almost beside herself, as she sank
upon his bosom.

'My Zinaida!' cried the enraptured Smileski once more.

His breath was coming in sharp, broken pants. The lamp of love
was burning brightly on the altar of passion, and searing the
hearts of the two unfortunate sufferers.

'Vladimir!' again she whispered in her intoxicationwhile her
bosom heavedher cheeks glowedand her eyes flashed fire.

Thus was a new and dread union consummated.

Half an hour later the aged Count entered his wife's boudoir.

'How now, my love?' said he. 'Surely it is for some welcome
guest beyond the common that you have had the samovar [Tea-urn.]
thus prepared?' And he smote her lightly on the cheek.

What think you of THATBarbara? Trueit is a little too
outspoken--there can be no doubt of that; yet how grand it is
how splendid! With your permission I will also quote you an
extract from Rataziaev's storyErmak and Zuleika:

'You love me, Zuleika? Say again that you love me, you love me!'

'I DO love youErmak' whispered Zuleika.

'Then by heaven and earth I thank you! By heaven and earth you
have made me happy! You have given me all, all that my tortured
soul has for immemorial years been seeking! 'Tis for this that
you have led me hither, my guiding star--'tis for this that you
have conducted me to the Girdle of Stone! To all the world will I
now show my Zuleika, and no man, demon or monster of Hell, shall
bid me nay! Oh, if men would but understand the mysterious
passions of her tender heart, and see the poem which lurks in
each of her little tears! Suffer me to dry those tears with my
kisses! Suffer me to drink of those heavenly drops, 0h being who
art not of this earth!'

'Ermak' said Zuleika'the world is crueland men are unjust.
But LET them drive us from their midst--let them judge usmy
beloved Ermak! What has a poor maiden who was reared amid the
snows of Siberia to do with their coldicyself-sufficient
world? Men cannot understand memy darlingmy sweetheart.'

'Is that so? Then shall the sword of the Cossacks sing and
whistle over their heads!' cried Ermak with a furious look in his

What must Ermak have felt when he learnt that his Zuleika had
been murderedBarbara?--thattaking advantages of the cover of
nightthe blind old Kouchoum hadin Ermak's absencebroken
into the latter's tentand stabbed his own daughter in mistake

for the man who had robbed him of sceptre and crown?

'Oh that I had a stone whereon to whet my sword!' cried Ermak in
the madness of his wrath as he strove to sharpen his steel blade
upon the enchanted rock. 'I would have his blood, his blood! I
would tear him limb from limb, the villain!'

Then Ermakunable to survive the loss of his Zuleikathrows
himself into the Irtischand the tale comes to an end.

Hereagainis another short extract--this time written in a
more comical veinto make people laugh:

Do you know Ivan Prokofievitch Zheltopuzh? He is the man who
took a piece out of Prokofi Ivanovitch's leg. Ivan's character is
one of the rugged order, and therefore, one that is rather
lacking in virtue. Yet he has a passionate relish for radishes
and honey. Once he also possessed a friend named Pelagea
Antonovna. Do you know Pelagea Antonovna? She is the woman who
always puts on her petticoat wrong side outwards.

What humourBarbara--what purest humour! We rocked with laughter
when he read it aloud to us. Yesthat is the kind of man he is.
Possibly the passage is a trifle over-frolicsomebut at least it
is harmlessand contains no freethought or liberal ideas. In
passingI may say that Rataziaev is not only a supreme writer
but also a man of upright life--which is more than can be said
for most writers.

Whatdo you thinkis an idea that sometimes enters my head? In
factwhat if I myself were to write something? How if suddenly a
book were to make its appearance in the world bearing the title
of "The Poetical Works of Makar Dievushkin"? What THENmy angel?
How should you viewshould you receivesuch an event? I may say
of myself that neverafter my book had appearedshould I have
the hardihood to show my face on the Nevski Prospect; for would
it not be too dreadful to hear every one sayingHere comes the
literateur and poet, Dievushkin--yes, it is Dievushkin himself?
Whatin such a caseshould I do with my feet (for I may tell
you that almost always my shoes are patchedor have just been
resoledand therefore look anything but becoming)? To think that
the great writer Dievushkin should walk about in patched
footgear! If a duchess or a countess should recognise mewhat
would she saypoor woman? Perhapsthoughshe would not notice
my shoes at allsince it may reasonably be supposed that
countesses do not greatly occupy themselves with footgear
especially with the footgear of civil service officials (footgear
may differ from footgearit must be remembered). BesidesI
should find that the countess had heard all about mefor my
friends would have betrayed me to her--Rataziaev among the first
of themseeing that he often goes to visit Countess V.and
practically lives at her house. She is said to be a woman of
great intellect and wit. An artful dogthat Rataziaev!

But enough of this. I write this sort of thing both to amuse
myself and to divert your thoughts. Goodbye nowmy angel. This
is a long epistle that I am sending youbut the reason is that
today I feel in good spirits after dining at Rataziaev's. There I
came across a novel which I hardly know how to describe to you.
Do not think the worse of me on that accounteven though I bring
you another book instead (for I certainly mean to bring one). The
novel in question was one of Paul de Kock'sand not a novel for
you to read. Nono! Such a work is unfit for your eyes. In fact
it is said to have greatly offended the critics of St.

Petersburg. AlsoI am sending you a pound of bonbons--bought
specially for yourself. Each time that you eat onebeloved
remember the sender. Onlydo not bite the iced onesbut suck
them gentlylest they make your teeth ache. Perhapstooyou
like comfits? Wellwrite and tell me if it is so. Goodbye
goodbye. Christ watch over youmy darling!--Always your faithful


June 27th.

MY DEAREST MAKAR ALEXIEVITCH--Thedora tells me thatshould I
wishthere are some people who will be glad to help me by
obtaining me an excellent post as governess in a certain house.
What think youmy friend? Shall I go or not? Of courseI should
then cease to be a burden to youand the post appears to be a
comfortable one. On the other handthe idea of entering a
strange house appals me. The people in it are landed gentryand
they will begin to ask me questionsand to busy themselves about
me. What answers shall I then return? You seeI am now so unused
to society--so shy! I like to live in a corner to which I have
long grown used. Yesthe place with which one is familiar is
always the best. Even if for companion one has but sorrowthat
place will still be the best.... God alone knows what duties the
post will entail. Perhaps I shall merely be required to act as
nursemaid; and in any caseI hear that the governess there has
been changed three times in two years. For God's sakeMakar
Alexievitchadvise me whether to go or not. Why do you never
come near me now? Do let my eyes have an occasional sight of you.
Mass on Sundays is almost the only time when we see one another.
How retiring you have become! So also have Ieven thoughin a
wayI am your kinswoman. You must have ceased to love meMakar
Alexievitch. I spend many a weary hour because of it. Sometimes
when dusk is fallingI find myself lonely--ohso lonely!
Thedora has gone out somewhereand I sit here and thinkand
thinkand think. I remember all the pastits joys and its
sorrows. It passes before my eyes in detailit glimmers at me as
out of a mist; and as it does sowell-known faces appearwhich
seem actually to be present with me in this room! Most frequently
of allI see my mother. Ahthe dreams that come to me! I feel
that my health is breakingso weak am I. When this morning I
arosesickness took me until I vomited and vomited. YesI feel
I knowthat death is approaching. Who will bury me when it has
come? Who will visit my tomb? Who will sorrow for me? And now it
is in a strange placein the house of a strangerthat I may
have to die! Yesin a corner which I do not know! ... My God
how sad a thing is life! ... Why do you send me comfits to eat?
Whence do you get the money to buy them? Ahfor God's sake keep
the moneykeep the money. Thedora has sold a carpet which I have
made. She got fifty roubles for itwhich is very good--I had
expected less. Of the fifty roubles I shall give Thedora three
and with the remainder make myself a plainwarm dress. AlsoI
am going to make you a waistcoat--to make it myselfand out of
good material.

AlsoThedora has brought me a book--"The Stories of Bielkin"-which
I will forward youif you would care to read it. Onlydo
not soil itnor yet retain itfor it does not belong to me. It
is by Pushkin. Two years ago I read these stories with my mother
and it would hurt me to read them again. If you yourself have any
bookspray let me have them--so long as they have not been

obtained from Rataziaev. Probably he will be giving you one of
his own works when he has had one printed. How is it that his
compositions please you so muchMakar Alexievitch? I think them
SUCH rubbish!

--Now goodbye. How I have been chattering on! When feeling sadI
always like to talk of somethingfor it acts upon me like
medicine--I begin to feel easier as soon as I have uttered what
is preying upon my heart. Good byegood-byemy friend--Your own

B. D.
June 28th.

MY DEAREST BARBARA ALEXIEVNA--Away with melancholy! Really
belovedyou ought to be ashamed of yourself! How can you allow
such thoughts to enter your head? Really and truly you are quite
well; really and truly you aremy darling. Whyyou are blooming
--simply blooming. TrueI see a certain touch of pallor in your
facebut still you are blooming. A fig for dreams and visions!
Yesfor shamedearest! Drive away those fancies; try to despise
them. Why do I sleep so well? Why am I never ailing? Look at ME
beloved. I live wellI sleep peacefullyI retain my healthI
can ruffle it with my juniors. In factit is a pleasure to see
me. Comecomethensweetheart! Let us have no more of this. I
know that that little head of yours is capable of any fancy--that
all too easily you take to dreaming and repining; but for my
sakecease to do so.

Are you to go to these peopleyou ask me? Never! Nonoagain
no! How could you think of doing such a thing as taking a
journey? I will not allow it--I intend to combat your intention
with all my might. I will sell my frockcoatand walk the streets
in my shirt sleevesrather than let you be in want. But no
Barbara. I know youI know you. This is merely a trickmerely a
trick. And probably Thedora alone is to blame for it. She appears
to be a foolish old womanand to be able to persuade you to do
anything. Do not believe hermy dearest. I am sure that you know
what is whatas well as SHE does. Ehsweetheart? She is a
stupidquarrelsomerubbish-talking old woman who brought her
late husband to the grave. Probably she has been plaguing you as
much as she did him. Nonodearest; you must not take this
step. What should I do then? What would there be left for ME to
do? Pray put the idea out of your head. What is it you lack here?
I cannot feel sufficiently overjoyed to be near youwhilefor
your partyou love me welland can live your life here as
quietly as you wish. Read or sewwhichever you like--or read and
do not sew. Onlydo not desert me. Tryyourselfto imagine how
things would seem after you had gone. Here am I sending you
booksand later we will go for a walk. Comecomethenmy
Barbara! Summon to your aid your reasonand cease to babble of

As soon as I can I will come and see youand then you shall tell
me the whole story. This will not dosweetheart; this certainly
will not do. Of courseI know that I am not an educated manand
have received but a sorry schoolingand have had no inclination
for itand think too much of Rataziaevif you will; but he is
my friendand thereforeI must put in a word or two for him.
Yeshe is a splendid writer. Again and again I assert that he
writes magnificently. I do not agree with you about his works
and never shall. He writes too ornatelytoo laconicallywith

too great a wealth of imagery and imagination. Perhaps you have
read him without insightBarbara? Or perhaps you were out of
spirits at the timeor angry with Thedora about somethingor
worried about some mischance? Ahbut you should read him
sympatheticallyandbest of allat a time when you are feeling
happy and contented and pleasantly disposed-- for instancewhen
you have a bonbon or two in your mouth. Yesthat is the way to
read Rataziaev. I do not dispute (indeedwho would do so?) that
better writers than he exist--even far better; but they are good
and he is good too--they write welland he writes well. It is
chiefly for his own sake that he writesand he is to be approved
for so doing.

Now goodbyedearest. More I cannot writefor I must hurry away
to business. Be of good cheerand the Lord God watch over you!-Your
faithful friend


P.S--Thank you so much for the bookdarling! I will read it
throughthis volume of Pushkinand tonight come to you.

MY DEAR MAKAR ALEXIEVITCH--Nonomy friendI must not go on
living near you. I have been thinking the matter overand come
to the conclusion that I should be doing very wrong to refuse so
good a post. I should at least have an assured crust of bread; I
might at least set to work to earn my employers' favourand even
try to change my character if required to do so. Of course it is
a sad and sorry thing to have to live among strangersand to be
forced to seek their patronageand to conceal and constrain
one's own personality-- but God will help me. I must not remain
forever a reclusefor similar chances have come my way before. I
remember howwhen a little girl at schoolI used to go home on
Sundays and spend the time in frisking and dancing about.
Sometimes my mother would chide me for so doingbut I did not
carefor my heart was too joyousand my spirits too buoyant
for that. Yet as the evening of Sunday came ona sadness as of
death would overtake mefor at nine o'clock I had to return to
schoolwhere everything was cold and strange and severe--where
the governesseson Mondayslost their tempersand nipped my
earsand made me cry. On such occasions I would retire to a
corner and weep alone; concealing my tears lest I should be
called lazy. Yet it was not because I had to study that I used to
weepand in time I grew more used to thingsandafter my
schooldays were overshed tears only when I was parting with
friends. . . .

It is not right for me to live in dependence upon you. The
thought tortures me. I tell you this franklyfor the reason that
frankness with you has become a habit. Cannot I see that daily
at earliest dawnThedora rises to do washing and scrubbingand
remains working at it until late at nighteven though her poor
old bones must be aching for want of rest? Cannot I also see that
YOU are ruining yourself for meand hoarding your last kopeck
that you may spend it on my behalf? You ought not so to actmy
friendeven though you write that you would rather sell your all
than let me want for anything. I believe in youmy friend--I
entirely believe in your good heart; butyou say that to me now
(whenperhapsyou have received some unexpected sum or
gratuity) and there is still the future to be thought of. You
yourself know that I am always ailing--that I cannot work as you
doglad though I should be of any work if I could get it; so

what else is there for me to do? To sit and repine as I watch you
and Thedora? But how would that be of any use to you? AM I
necessary to youcomrade of mine? HAVE I ever done you any good?
Though I am bound to you with my whole souland love you dearly
and strongly and wholeheartedlya bitter fate has ordained that
that love should be all that I have to give--that I should be
unableby creating for you subsistenceto repay you for all
your kindness. Do notthereforedetain me longerbut think the
matter outand give me your opinion on it. In expectation of
which I remain your sweetheart

B. D.
July 1st.

RubbishrubbishBarbara!--What you say is sheer rubbish. Stay
hereratherand put such thoughts out of your head. None of
what you suppose is true. I can see for myself that it is not.
Whatsoever you lack hereyou have but to ask me for it. Here you
love and are lovedand we might easily be happy and contented
together. What could you want more? What have you to do with
strangers? You cannot possibly know what strangers are like. I
know itthoughand could have told you if you had asked me.
There is a stranger whom I knowand whose bread I have eaten. He
is a cruel manBarbara--a man so bad that he would be unworthy
of your little heartand would soon tear it to pieces with his
railings and reproaches and black looks. On the other handyou
are safe and well here--you are as safe as though you were
sheltered in a nest. Besidesyou wouldas it wereleave me
with my head gone. For what should I have to do when you were
gone? What could Ian old manfind to do? Are you not necessary
to me? Are you not useful to me? Eh? Surely you do not think that
you are not useful? You are of great use to meBarbarafor you
exercise a beneficial influence upon my life. Even at this
momentas I think of youI feel cheeredfor always I can write
letters to youand put into them what I am feelingand receive
from you detailed answers.... I have bought you a wardrobeand
also procured you a bonnet; so you see that you have only to give
me a commission for it to be executed. . . . No-- in what way are
you not useful? What should I do if I were deserted in my old
age? What would become of me? Perhaps you never thought of that
Barbara--perhaps you never said to yourselfHow could HE get on
without me?You seeI have grown so accustomed to you. What
else would it end inif you were to go away? Whyin my hiking
to the Neva's bank and doing away with myself. AhBarbara
darlingI can see that you want me to be taken away to the
Volkovo Cemetery in a broken-down old hearsewith some poor
outcast of the streets to accompany my coffin as chief mourner
and the gravediggers to heap my body with clayand depart and
leave me there. How wrong of youhow wrong of youmy beloved!
Yesby heavenshow wrong of you! I am returning you your book
little friend; andif you were to ask of me my opinion of itI
should say that never before in my life had I read a book so
splendid. I keep wondering how I have hitherto contrived to
remain such an owl. For what have I ever done? From what wilds
did I spring into existence? I KNOW nothing--I know simply
NOTHING. My ignorance is complete. FranklyI am not an educated
manfor until now I have read scarcely a single book--only "A
Portrait of Man" (a clever enough work in its way)The Boy Who
Could Play Many Tunes Upon Bellsand "Ivik's Storks". That is
all. But now I have also read "The Station Overseer" in your
little volume; and it is wonderful to think that one may live and

yet be ignorant of the fact that under one's very nose there may
be a book in which one's whole life is described as in a picture.
Never should I have guessed thatas soon as ever one begins to
read such a bookit sets one on both to remember and to consider
and to foretell events. Another reason why I liked this book so
much is thatthoughin the case of other works (however clever
they be)one may read themyet remember not a word of them (for
I am a man naturally dull of comprehensionand unable to read
works of any great importance)--althoughas I sayone may read
such worksone reads such a book as YOURS as easily as though it
had been written by oneselfand had taken possession of one's
heartand turned it inside out for inspectionand were
describing it in detail as a matter of perfect simplicity. WhyI
might almost have written the book myself! Why notindeed? I can
feel just as the people in the book doand find myself in
positions precisely similar to those ofsaythe character
Samson Virin. In facthow many good-hearted wretches like Virin
are there not walking about amongst us? How easilytooit is
all described! I assure youmy darlingthat I almost shed tears
when I read that Virin so took to drink as to lose his memory
become moroseand spend whole days over his liquor; as also that
he choked with grief and wept bitterly whenrubbing his eyes
with his dirty handhe bethought him of his wandering lambhis
daughter Dunasha! How naturalhow natural! You should read the
book for yourself. The thing is actually alive. Even I can see
that; even I can realise that it is a picture cut from the very
life around me. In it I see our own Theresa (to go no further)
and the poor Tchinovnik--who is just such a man as this Samson
Virinexcept for his surname of Gorshkov. The book describes
just what might happen to ourselves--to myself in particular.
Even a count who lives in the Nevski Prospect or in Naberezhnaia
Street might have a similar experiencethough he might APPEAR to
be differentowing to the fact that his life is cast on a higher
plane. Yesjust the same things might happen to him--just the
same things. . . . Here you are wishing to go away and leave us;
yetbe careful lest it would not be I who had to pay the penalty
of your doing so. For you might ruin both yourself and me. For
the love of Godput away these thoughts from youmy darling
and do not torture me in vain. How could youmy poor little
unfledged nestlingfind yourself foodand defend yourself from
misfortuneand ward off the wiles of evil men? Think better of
itBarbaraand pay no more heed to foolish advice and calumny
but read your book againand read it with attention. It may do
you much good.

I have spoken of Rataziaev's "The Station Overseer". Howeverthe
author has told me that the work is old-fashionedsince
nowadaysbooks are issued with illustrations and embellishments
of different sorts (though I could not make out all that he
said). Pushkin he adjudges a splendid poetand one who has done
honour to Holy Russia. Read your book againBarbaraand follow
my adviceand make an old man happy. The Lord God Himself will
reward you. YesHe will surely reward you.--Your faithful


MY DEAREST MAKAR ALEXIEVITCH--Today Thedora came to me with
fifteen roubles in silver. How glad was the poor woman when I
gave her three of them! I am writing to you in great hastefor I
am busy cutting out a waistcoat to send to you--buffwith a
pattern of flowers. Also I am sending you a book of stories; some

of which I have read myselfparticularly one called "The Cloak."
. . . You invite me to go to the theatre with you. But will it
not cost too much? Of course we might sit in the gallery. It is a
long time (indeed I cannot remember when I last did so) since I
visited a theatre! Yet I cannot help fearing that such an
amusement is beyond our means. Thedora keeps nodding her head
and saying that you have taken to living above your income. I
myself divine the same thing by the amount which you have spent
upon me. Take caredear friendthat misfortune does not come of
itfor Thedora has also informed me of certain rumours
concerning your inability to meet your landlady's bills. In fact
I am very anxious about you. Nowgoodbyefor I must hasten away
to see about another matter--about the changing of the ribands on
my bonnet.

P.S--Do you knowif we go to the theatreI think that I shall
wear my new hat and black mantilla. Will that not look nice?

July 7th.

MY DEAREST BARBARA ALEXIEVNA--SO much for yesterday! Yes
dearestwe have both been caught playing the foolfor I have
become thoroughly bitten with the actress of whom I spoke. Last
night I listened to her with all my earsalthoughstrangely
enoughit was practically my first sight of herseeing that
only once before had I been to the theatre. In those days I lived
cheek by jowl with a party of five young men--a most noisy crew-
and one night I accompanied themwilly-nillyto the theatre
though I held myself decently aloof from their doingsand only
assisted them for company's sake. How those fellows talked to me
of this actress! Every night when the theatre was openthe
entire band of them (they always seemed to possess the requisite
money) would betake themselves to that place of entertainment
where they ascended to the galleryand clapped their handsand
repeatedly recalled the actress in question. In factthey went
simply mad over her. Even after we had returned home they would
give me no restbut would go on talking about her all nightand
calling her their Glashaand declaring themselves to be in love
with "the canary-bird of their hearts." My defenseless selftoo
they would plague about the womanfor I was as young as they.
What a figure I must have cut with them on the fourth tier of the
gallery! YetI never got a sight of more than just a corner of
the curtainbut had to content myself with listening. She had a
fineresoundingmellow voice like a nightingale'sand we all
of us used to clap our hands loudlyand to shout at the top of
our lungs. In shortwe came very near to being ejected. On the
first occasion I went home walking as in a mistwith a single
rouble left in my pocketand an interval of ten clear days
confronting me before next pay-day. Yetwhat think youdearest?
The very next daybefore going to workI called at a French
perfumer'sand spent my whole remaining capital on some eau-de-
Cologne and scented soap! Why I did so I do not know. Nor did I
dine at home that daybut kept walking and walking past her
windows (she lived in a fourth-storey flat on the Nevski
Prospect). At length I returned to my own lodgingbut only to
rest a short hour before again setting off to the Nevski Prospect
and resuming my vigil before her windows. For a month and a half
I kept this up--dangling in her train. Sometimes I would hire
cabsand discharge them in view of her abode; until at length I
had entirely ruined myselfand got into debt. Then I fell out of
love with her--I grew weary of the pursuit. . . . You see
thereforeto what depths an actress can reduce a decent man. In

those days I was young. Yesin those days I was VERY young.

M. D.
July 8th.

MY DEAREST BARBARA ALEXIEVNA--The book which I received from you
on the 6th of this month I now hasten to returnwhile at the
same time hastening also to explain matters to you in this
accompanying letter. What a misfortunemy belovedthat you
should have brought me to such a pass! Our lots in life are
apportioned by the Almighty according to our human deserts. To
such a one He assigns a life in a general's epaulets or as a
privy councillor--to such a oneI sayHe assigns a life of
command; whereas to another oneHe allots only a life of
unmurmuring toil and suffering. These things are calculated
according to a man's CAPACITY. One man may be capable of one
thingand another of anotherand their several capacities are
ordered by the Lord God himself. I have now been thirty years in
the public serviceand have fulfilled my duties irreproachably
remained abstemiousand never been detected in any unbecoming
behaviour. As a citizenI may confess--I confess it freely--I
have been guilty of certain shortcomings; yet those shortcomings
have been combined with certain virtues. I am respected by my
superiorsand even his Excellency has had no fault to find with
me; and though I have never been shown any special marks of
favourI know that every one finds me at least satisfactory.
Alsomy writing is sufficiently legible and clear. Neither too
rounded nor too fineit is a running handyet always suitable.
Of our staff only Ivan Prokofievitch writes a similar hand. Thus
have I lived till the grey hairs of my old age; yet I can think
of no serious fault committed. Of courseno one is free from
MINOR faults. Everyone has some of themand you among the rest
my beloved. But in grave or in audacious offences never have I
been detectednor in infringements of regulationsnor in
breaches of the public peace. Nonever! This you surely know
even as the author of your book must have known it. Yeshe also
must have known it when he sat down to write. I had not expected
this of youmy Barbara. I should never have expected it.

What? In future I am not to go on living peacefully in my little
cornerpoor though that corner be I am not to go on livingas
the proverb has itwithout muddying the wateror hurting any
oneor forgetting the fear of the Lord God and of oneself? I am
not to seeforsooththat no man does me an injuryor breaks
into my home--I am not to take care that all shall go well with
meor that I have clothes to wearor that my shoes do not
require mendingor that I be given work to door that I possess
sufficient meat and drink? Is it nothing thatwhere the pavement
is rottenI have to walk on tiptoe to save my boots? If I write
to you overmuch concerning myselfis it concerning ANOTHER man
ratherthat I ought to write--concerning HIS wantsconcerning
HIS lack of tea to drink (and all the world needs tea)? Has it
ever been my custom to pry into other men's mouthsto see what
is being put into them? Have I ever been known to offend any one
in that respect? Nonobeloved! Why should I desire to insult
other folks when they are not molesting ME? Let me give you an
example of what I mean. A man may go on slaving and slaving in
the public serviceand earn the respect of his superiors (for
what it is worth)and thenfor no visible reason at allfind
himself made a fool of. Of course he may break out now and then
(I am not now referring only to drunkenness)and (for example)

buy himself a new pair of shoesand take pleasure in seeing his
feet looking well and smartly shod. YesI myself have known what
it is to feel like that (I write this in good faith). Yet I am
nonetheless astonished that Thedor Thedorovitch should neglect
what is being said about himand take no steps to defend
himself. Truehe is only a subordinate officialand sometimes
loves to rate and scold; yet why should he not do so--why should
he not indulge in a little vituperation when he feels like it?
Suppose it to be NECESSARYfor FORM'S saketo scoldand to set
everyone rightand to shower around abuse (forbetween
ourselvesBarbaraour friend cannot get on WITHOUT abuse--so
much so that every one humours himand does things behind his
back)? Wellsince officials differ in rankand every official
demands that he shall be allowed to abuse his fellow officials in
proportion to his rankit follows that the TONE also of official
abuse should become divided into ranksand thus accord with the
natural order of things. All the world is built upon the system
that each one of us shall have to yield precedence to some other
oneas well as to enjoy a certain power of abusing his fellows.
Without such a provision the world could not get on at alland
simple chaos would ensue. Yet I am surprised that our Thedor
should continue to overlook insults of the kind that he endures.

Why do I do my official work at all? Why is that necessary? Will
my doing of it lead anyone who reads it to give me a greatcoat
or to buy me a new pair of shoes? NoBarbara. Men only read the
documentsand then require me to write more. Sometimes a man
will hide himself awayand not show his face abroadfor the
mere reason thatthough he has done nothing to be ashamed ofhe
dreads the gossip and slandering which are everywhere to be
encountered. If his civic and family life have to do with
literatureeverything will be printed and read and laughed over
and discussed; until at lengthhe hardly dare show his face in
the street at allseeing that he will have been described by
report as recognisable through his gait alone! Thenwhen he has
amended his waysand grown gentler (even though he still
continues to be loaded with official work)he will come to be
accounted a virtuousdecent citizen who has deserved well of his
comradesrendered obedience to his superiorswished noone any
evilpreserved the fear of God in his heartand died lamented.
Yet would it not be betterinstead of letting the poor fellow
dieto give him a cloak while yet he is ALIVE--to give it to
this same Thedor Thedorovitch (that is to sayto myself)? Yes
'twere far better ifon hearing the tale of his subordinate's
virtuesthe chief of the department were to call the deserving
man into his officeand then and there to promote himand to
grant him an increase of salary. Thus vice would be punished
virtue would prevailand the staff of that department would live
in peace together. Here we have an example from everyday
commonplace life. Howthereforecould you bring yourself to
send me that bookmy beloved? It is a badly conceived work
Barbaraand also unrealfor the reason that in creation such a
Tchinovnik does not exist. Noagain I protest against itlittle
Barbara; again I protest.--Your most humbledevoted servant

M. D.
July 27th.

MY DEAREST MAKAR ALEXIEVITCH--Your latest conduct and letters
had frightened meand left me thunderstruck and plunged in
doubtuntil what you have said about Thedor explained the

situation. Why despair and go into such frenziesMakar
Alexievitch? Your explanations only partially satisfy me. Perhaps
I did wrong to insist upon accepting a good situation when it was
offered meseeing that from my last experience in that way I
derived a shock which was anything but a matter for jesting. You
say also that your love for me has compelled you to hide yourself
in retirement. Nowhow much I am indebted to you I realised when
you told me that you were spending for my benefit the sum which
you are always reported to have laid by at your bankers; butnow
that I have learnED that you never possessed such a fundbut
thaton hearing of my destitute plightand being moved by it
you decided to spend upon me the whole of your salary--even to
forestall it--and when I had fallen illactually to sell your
clothes--when I learnED all this I found myself placed in the
harassing position of not knowing how to accept it allnor what
to think of it. AhMakar Alexievitch! You ought to have stopped
at your first acts of charity--acts inspired by sympathy and the
love of kinsfolkrather than have continued to squander your
means upon what was unnecessary. Yesyou have betrayed our
friendshipMakar Alexievitchin that you have not been open
with me; andnow that I see that your last coin has been spent
upon dresses and bon-bons and excursions and books and visits to
the theatre for meI weep bitter tears for my unpardonable
improvidence in having accepted these things without giving so
much as a thought to your welfare. Yesall that you have done to
give me pleasure has become converted into a source of griefand
left behind it only useless regret. Of late I have remarked that
you were looking depressed; and though I felt fearful that
something unfortunate was impendingwhat has happened would
otherwise never have entered my head. To think that your better
sense should so play you falseMakar Alexievitch! What will
people think of youand say of you? Who will want to know you?
You whomlike everyone elseI have valued for your goodness of
heart and modesty and good sense--YOUI sayhave now given way
to an unpleasant vice of which you seem never before to have been
guilty. What were my feelings when Thedora informed me that you
had been discovered drunk in the streetand taken home by the
police? WhyI felt petrified with astonishment--althoughin
view of the fact that you had failed me for four daysI had been
expecting some such extraordinary occurrence. Alsohave you
thought what your superiors will say of you when they come to
learn the true reason of your absence? You say that everyone is
laughing at youthat every one has learnED of the bond which
exists between usand that your neighbours habitually refer to
me with a sneer. Pay no attention to thisMakar Alexievitch; for
the love of Godbe comforted. Alsothe incident between you and
the officers has much alarmed mealthough I had heard certain
rumours concerning it. Pray explain to me what it means. You
writetoothat you have been afraid to be open with mefor the
reason that your confessions might lose you my friendship. Also
you say that you are in despair at the thought of being unable to
help me in my illnessowing to the fact that you have sold
everything which might have maintained meand preserved me in
sicknessas well as that you have borrowed as much as it is
possible for you to borrowand are daily experiencing
unpleasantness with your landlady. Wellin failing to reveal all
this to me you chose the worse course. NowhoweverI know all.
You have forced me to recognise that I have been the cause of
your unhappy plightas well as that my own conduct has brought
upon myself a twofold measure of sorrow. The fact leaves me
thunderstruckMakar Alexievitch. Ahfriendan infectious
disease is indeed a misfortunefor now we poor and miserable
folk must perforce keep apart from one anotherlest the
infection be increased. YesI have brought upon you calamities

which never before in your humblesolitary life you had
experienced. This tortures and exhausts me more than I can tell
to think of.

Write to me quite frankly. Tell me how you came to embark upon
such a course of conduct. Comfortohcomfort me if you can. It
is not self-love that prompts me to speak of my own comforting
but my friendship and love for youwhich will never fade from my
heart. Goodbye. I await your answer with impatience. You have
thought but poorly of meMakar Alexievitch.--Your friend and


July 28th.

MY PRICELESS BARBARA ALEXIEVNA--What am I to say to younow
that all is overand we are gradually returning to our old
position? You say that you are anxious as to what will be thought
of me. Let me tell you that the dearest thing in life to me is my
self-respect; whereforein informing you of my misfortunes and
misconductI would add that none of my superiors know of my
doingsnor ever will know of themand that thereforeI still
enjoy a measure of respect in that quarter. Only one thing do I
fear-- I fear gossip. Garrulous though my landlady beshe said
but little whenwith the aid of your ten roublesI today paid
her part of her account; and as for the rest of my companions
they do not matter at all. So long as I have not borrowed money
from themI need pay them no attention. To conclude my
explanationslet me tell you that I value your respect for me
above everything in the worldand have found it my greatest
comfort during this temporary distress of mine. Thank Godthe
first shock of things has abatednow that you have agreed not to
look upon me as faithless and an egotist simply because I have
deceived you. I wish to hold you to myselffor the reason that I
cannot bear to part with youand love you as my guardian angel.
. . . I have now returned to workand am applying myself
diligently to my duties. Alsoyesterday Evstafi Ivanovitch
exchanged a word or two with me. Yet I will not conceal from you
the fact that my debts are crushing me downand that my wardrobe
is in a sorry state. At the same timethese things do not REALLY
matter and I would bid you not despair about them. Send me
howeveranother half-rouble if you can (though that half-rouble
will stab me to the heart--stab me with the thought that it is
not I who am helping youbut YOU who are helping ME). Thedora
has done well to get those fifteen roubles for you. At the
momentfool of an old man that I amI have no hope of acquiring
any more money; but as soon as ever I do soI will write to you
and let you know all about it. What chiefly worries me is the
fear of gossip. Goodbyelittle angel. I kiss your handsand
beseech you to regain your health. If this is not a detailed
letterthe reason is that I must soon be starting for the
officein order thatby strict application to dutyI may make
amends for the past. Further information concerning my doings (as
well as concerning that affair with the officers) must be
deferred until tonight.--Your affectionate and respectful friend


July 28th.

DEAREST LITTLE BARBARA--It is YOU who have committed a fault-and
one which must weigh heavily upon your conscience. Indeed
your last letter has amazed and confounded me--so much so that
on once more looking into the recesses of my heartI perceive
that I was perfectly right in what I did. Of course I am not now
referring to my debauch (noindeed!)but to the fact that I
love youand to the fact that it is unwise of me to love you-very
unwise. You know not how matters standmy darling. You know
not why I am BOUND to love you. Otherwise you would not say all
that you do. Yet I am persuaded that it is your head rather than
your heart that is speaking. I am certain that your heart thinks
very differently.

What occurred that night between myself and those officers I
scarcely knowI scarcely remember. You must bear in mind that
for some time past I have been in terrible distress--that for a
whole month I have beenso to speakhanging by a single thread.
Indeedmy position has been most pitiable. Though I hid myself
from youmy landlady was forever shouting and railing at me.
This would not have mattered a jot--the horrible old woman might
have shouted as much as she pleased--had it not been thatin the
first placethere was the disgrace of itandin the second
placeshe had somehow learned of our connectionand kept
proclaiming it to the household until I felt perfectly deafened
and had to stop my ears. The pointhoweveris that other people
did not stop their earsbuton the contrarypricked them.
IndeedI am at a loss what to do.

Really this wretched rabble has driven me to extremities. It all
began with my hearing a strange rumour from Thedora--namelythat
an unworthy suitor had been to visit youand had insulted you
with an improper proposal. That he had insulted you deeply I knew
from my own feelingsfor I felt insulted in an equal degree.
Upon thatmy angelI went to piecesandlosing all self-
controlplunged headlong. Bursting into an unspeakable frenzyI
was at once going to call upon this villain of a seducer--though
what to do next I knew notseeing that I was fearful of giving
you offence. Ahwhat a night of sorrow it wasand what a time
of gloomrainand sleet! NextI was returning homebut found
myself unable to stand upon my feet. Then Emelia Ilyitch happened
to come by. He also is a tchinovnik--or ratherwas a tchinovnik
since he was turned out of the service some time ago. What he was
doing there at that moment I do not know; I only know that I went
with him. . . . Surely it cannot give you pleasure to read of the
misfortunes of your friend--of his sorrowsand of the
temptations which he experienced? . . . On the evening of the
third day Emelia urged me to go and see the officer of whom I
have spokenand whose address I had learned from our dvornik.
More strictly speakingI had noticed him whenon a previous
occasionhe had come to play cards hereand I had followed him
home. Of course I now see that I did wrongbut I felt beside
myself when I heard them telling him stories about me. Exactly
what happened next I cannot remember. I only remember that
several other officers were present as well as he. Or it may be
that I saw everything double--God alone knows. AlsoI cannot
exactly remember what I said. I only remember that in my fury I
said a great deal. Then they turned me out of the roomand threw
me down the staircase--pushed me down itthat is to say. How I
got home you know. That is all. Of courselater I blamed myself
and my pride underwent a fall; but no extraneous person except
yourself knows of the affairand in any case it does not matter.
Perhaps the affair is as you imagine it to have beenBarbara?
One thing I know for certainand that is that last year one of

our lodgersAksenti Osipovitchtook a similar liberty with
Peter Petrovitchyet kept the fact secretan absolute secret.
He called him into his room (I happened to be looking through a
crack in the partition-wall)and had an explanation with him in
the way that a gentleman should--noone except myself being a
witness of the scene; whereasin my own caseI had no
explanation at all. After the scene was overnothing further
transpired between Aksenti Osipovitch and Peter Petrovitchfor
the reason that the latter was so desirous of getting on in life
that he held his tongue. As a resultthey bow and shake hands
whenever they meet. . . . I will not dispute the fact that I have
erred most grievously--that I should never dare to disputeor
that I have fallen greatly in my own estimation; butI think I
was fated from birth so to do--and one cannot escape fatemy
beloved. Herethereforeis a detailed explanation of my
misfortunes and sorrowswritten for you to read whenever you may
find it convenient. I am far from wellbelovedand have lost
all my gaiety of dispositionbut I send you this letter as a
token of my lovedevotionand respectOh dear lady of my
affections.-- Your humble servant


July 29th.

MY DEAREST MAKAR ALEXIEVITCH--I have read your two lettersand
they make my heart ache. See heredear friend of mine. You pass
over certain things in silenceand write about a PORTION only of
your misfortunes. Can it be that the letters are the outcome of a
mental disorder? . . . Come and see mefor God's sake. Come
todaydirect from the officeand dine with us as you have done
before. As to how you are living nowor as to what settlement
you have made with your landladyI know notfor you write
nothing concerning those two pointsand seem purposely to have
left them unmentioned. Au revoirmy friend. Come to me today
without fail. You would do better ALWAYS to dine here. Thedora is
an excellent cook. Goodbye --Your own


August 1st.

MY DARLING BARBARA ALEXIEVNA--Thank God that He has sent you a
chance of repaying my good with good. I believe in so doingas
well as in the sweetness of your angelic heart. ThereforeI will
not reproach you. Only I pray youdo not again blame me because
in the decline of my life I have played the spendthrift. It was
such a sinwas it not?--such a thing to do? And even if you
would still have it that the sin was thererememberlittle
friendwhat it costs me to hear such words fall from your lips.
Do not be vexed with me for saying thisfor my heart is
fainting. Poor people are subject to fancies--this is a provision
of nature. I myself have had reason to know this. The poor man is
exacting. He cannot see God's world as it isbut eyes each
passer-by askanceand looks around him uneasily in order that he
may listen to every word that is being uttered. May not people be
talking of him? How is it that he is so unsightly? What is he
feeling at all? What sort of figure is he cutting on the one side
or on the other? It is matter of common knowledgemy Barbara
that the poor man ranks lower than a ragand will never earn the

respect of any one. Yeswrite about him as you like--let
scribblers say what they choose about him-- he will ever remain
as he was. And why is this? It is becausefrom his very nature
the poor man has to wear his feelings on his sleeveso that
nothing about him is sacredand as for his self-respect--! Well
Emelia told me the other day that oncewhen he had to collect
subscriptionsofficial sanction was demanded for every single
coinsince people thought that it would be no use paying their
money to a poor man. Nowadays charity is strangely administered.
Perhaps it has always been so. Either folk do not know how to
administer itor they are adept in the art--one of the two.
Perhaps you did not know thisso I beg to tell it you. And how
comes it that the poor man knowsis so conscious of it all? The
answer is--by experience. He knows because any day he may see a
gentleman enter a restaurant and ask himselfWhat shall I have
to eat today? I will have such and such a dish,while all the
time the poor man will have nothing to eat that day but gruel.
There are mentoo--wretched busybodies--who walk about merely to
see if they can find some wretched tchinovnik or broken-down
official who has got toes projecting from his boots or his hair
uncut! And when they have found such a one they make a report of
the circumstanceand their rubbish gets entered on the file....
But what does it matter to you if my hair lacks the shears? If
you will forgive me what may seem to you a piece of rudenessI
declare that the poor man is ashamed of such things with the
sensitiveness of a young girl. YOUfor instancewould not care
(pray pardon my bluntness) to unrobe yourself before the public
eye; and in the same waythe poor man does not like to be pried
at or questioned concerning his family relationsand so forth. A
man of honour and self-respect such as I am finds it painful and
grievous to have to consort with men who would deprive him of

Today I sat before my colleagues like a bear's cub or a plucked
sparrowso that I fairly burned with shame. Yesit hurt me
terriblyBarbara. Naturally one blushes when one can see one's
naked toes projecting through one's bootsand one's buttons
hanging by a single thread! As though on purposeI seemedon
this occasionto be peculiarly dishevelled. No wonder that my
spirits fell. When I was talking on business matters to Stepan
Karlovitchhe suddenly exclaimedfor no apparent reasonAh,
poor old Makar Alexievitch!and then left the rest unfinished.
But I knew what he had in his mindand blushed so hotly that
even the bald patch on my head grew red. Of course the whole
thing is nothingbut it worries meand leads to anxious
thoughts. What can these fellows know about me? God send that
they know nothing! But I confess that I suspectI strongly
suspectone of my colleagues. Let them only betray me! They
would betray one's private life for a groatfor they hold
nothing sacred.

I have an idea who is at the bottom of it all. It is Rataziaev.
Probably he knows someone in our department to whom he has
recounted the story with additions. Or perhaps he has spread it
abroad in his own departmentand thenceit has crept and
crawled into ours. Everyone here knows itdown to the last
detailfor I have seen them point at you with their fingers
through the window. Oh yesI have seen them do it. Yesterday
when I stepped across to dine with youthe whole crew were
hanging out of the window to watch meand the landlady exclaimed
that the devil was in young peopleand called you certain
unbecoming names. But this is as nothing compared with
Rataziaev's foul intention to place us in his booksand to
describe us in a satire. He himself has declared that he is going

to do soand other people say the same. In factI know not what
to thinknor what to decide. It is no use concealing the fact
that you and I have sinned against the Lord God.... You were
going to send me a book of some sortto divert my mind--were you
notdearest? What bookthoughcould now divert me? Only such
books as have never existed on earth. Novels are rubbishand
written for fools and for the idle. Believe medearestI know
it through long experience. Even should they vaunt Shakespeare to
youI tell you that Shakespeare is rubbishand proper only for
lampoons--Your own


August 2nd.

MY DEAREST MAKAR ALEXIEVITCH--Do not disquiet yourself. God will
grant that all shall turn out well. Thedora has obtained a
quantity of workboth for me and herselfand we are setting
about it with a will. Perhaps it will put us straight again.
Thedora suspects my late misfortunes to be connected with Anna
Thedorovna; but I do not care--I feel extraordinarily cheerful
today. So you are thinking of borrowing more money? If somay
God preserve youfor you will assuredly be ruined when the time
comes for repayment! You had far better come and live with us
here for a little while. Yescome and take up your abode here
and pay no attention whatever to what your landlady says. As for
the rest of your enemies and ill-wishersI am certain that it is
with vain imaginings that you are vexing yourself. . . . In
passinglet me tell you that your style differs greatly from
letter to letter. Goodbye until we meet again. I await your
coming with impatience--Your own

B. D.
August 3rd.

MY ANGELBARBARA ALEXIEVNA--I hasten to inform you0h light of
my lifethat my hopes are rising again. Butlittle daughter of
mine--do you really mean it when you say that I am to indulge in
no more borrowings? WhyI could not do without them. Things
would go badly with us both if I did so. You are ailing.
ConsequentlyI tell you roundly that I MUST borrowand that I
must continue to do so.

AlsoI may tell you that my seat in the office is now next to
that of a certain Emelia Ivanovitch. He is not the Emelia whom
you knowbut a man wholike myselfis a privy councilloras
well as representswith myselfthe senior and oldest official
in our department. Likewise he is a gooddisinterested souland
one that is not over-talkativethough a true bear in appearance
and demeanour. Industriousand possessed of a handwriting purely
Englishhis caligraphy isit must be confessedeven worse than
my own. Yeshe is a good soul. At the same timewe have never
been intimate with one another. We have done no more than
exchange greetings on meeting or partingborrow one another's
penknife if we needed oneandin shortobserve such bare
civilities as convention demands. Welltoday he said to me
Makar Alexievitch, what makes you look so thoughtful?and
inasmuch as I could see that he wished me wellI told him all-or
ratherI did not tell him EVERYTHINGfor that I do to no

man (I have not the heart to do it); I told him just a few
scattered details concerning my financial straits. "Then you
ought to borrow said he. You ought to obtain a loan of Peter
Petrovitchwho does a little in that way. I myself once borrowed
some money of himand he charged me fair and light interest."
WellBarbaramy heart leapt within me at these words. I kept
thinking and thinking--if only God would put it into the mind
of Peter Petrovitch to be my benefactor by advancing me a loan!"
I calculated that with its aid I might both repay my landlady and
assist yourself and get rid of my surroundings (where I can
hardly sit down to table without the rascals making jokes about
me). Sometimes his Excellency passes our desk in the office. He
glances at meand cannot but perceive how poorly I am dressed.
Nowneatness and cleanliness are two of his strongest points.
Even though he says nothingI feel ready to die with shame when
he approaches. Wellhardening my heartand putting my
diffidence into my ragged pocketI approached Peter Petrovitch
and halted before him more dead than alive. Yet I was hopeful
and thoughas it turned outhe was busily engaged in talking to
Thedosei IvanovitchI walked up to him from behindand plucked
at his sleeve. He looked away from mebut I recited my speech
about thirty roubleset ceteraet ceteraof whichat first
he failed to catch the meaning. Even when I had explained matters
to him more fullyhe only burst out laughingand said nothing.
Again I addressed to him my request; whereuponasking me what
security I could givehe again buried himself in his papersand
went on writing without deigning me even a second glance. Dismay
seized me. "Peter Petrovitch I said, I can offer you no
security but to this I added an explanation that some salary
would, in time, be due to me, which I would make over to him, and
account the loan my first debt. At that moment someone called him
away, and I had to wait a little. On returning, he began to mend
his pen as though he had not even noticed that I was there. But I
was for myself this time. Peter Petrovitch I continued, can
you not do ANYTHING?" Still he maintained silenceand seemed not
to have heard me. I waited and waited. At length I determined to
make a final attemptand plucked him by the sleeve. He muttered
somethingandhis pen mendedset about his writing. There was
nothing for me to do but to depart. He and the rest of them are
worthy fellowsdearest--that I do not doubt-- but they are also
proudvery proud. What have I to do with them? Yet I thought I
would write and tell you all about it. Meanwhile Emelia
Ivanovitch had been encouraging me with nods and smiles. He is a
good souland has promised to recommend me to a friend of his
who lives in Viborskaia Street and lends money. Emelia declares
that this friend will certainly lend me a little; so tomorrow
belovedI am going to call upon the gentleman in question. . . .
What do you think about it? It would be a pity not to obtain a
loan. My landlady is on the point of turning me out of doorsand
has refused to allow me any more board. Alsomy boots are
wearing throughand have lost every button--and I do not possess
another pair! Could anyone in a government office display greater
shabbiness? It is dreadfulmy Barbara--it is simply dreadful!


August 4th.

MY BELOVED MAKAR ALEXIEVITCH--For God's sake borrow some money
as soon as you can. I would not ask this help of you were it not
for the situation in which I am placed. Thedora and myself cannot
remain any longer in our present lodgingsfor we have been

subjected to great unpleasantnessand you cannot imagine my
state of agitation and dismay. The reason is that this morning we
received a visit from an elderly--almost an old--man whose breast
was studded with orders. Greatly surprisedI asked him what he
wanted (for at the moment Thedora had gone out shopping);
whereupon he began to question me as to my mode of life and
occupationand thenwithout waiting for an answerinformed me
that he was uncle to the officer of whom you have spoken; that he
was very angry with his nephew for the way in which the latter
had behavedespecially with regard to his slandering of me right
and left; and that hethe unclewas ready to protect me from
the young spendthrift's insolence. Alsohe advised me to have
nothing to say to young fellows of that stampand added that he
sympathised with me as though he were my own fatherand would
gladly help me in any way he could. At this I blushed in some
confusionbut did not greatly hasten to thank him. Nexthe took
me forcibly by the handandtapping my cheeksaid that I was
very good-lookingand that he greatly liked the dimples in my
face (God only knows what he meant!). Finally he tried to kiss
meon the plea that he was an old manthe brute! At this moment
Thedora returned; whereuponin some confusionhe repeated that
he felt a great respect for my modesty and virtueand that he
much wished to become acquainted with me; after which he took
Thedora asideand triedon some pretext or anotherto give her
money (though of course she declined it). At last he took himself
off--again reiterating his assurancesand saying that he
intended to return with some earrings as a present; that he
advised me to change my lodgings; andthat he could recommend me
a splendid flat which he had in his mind's eye as likely to cost
me nothing. Yeshe also declared that he greatly liked me for my
purity and good sense; that I must beware of dissolute young men;
and that he knew Anna Thedorovnawho had charged him to inform
me that she would shortly be visiting me in person. Upon thatI
understood all. What I did next I scarcely knowfor I had never
before found myself in such a position; but I believe that I
broke all restraintsand made the old man feel thoroughly
ashamed of himself--Thedora helping me in the taskand well-nigh
turning him neck and crop out of the tenement. Neither of us
doubt that this is Anna Thedorovna's work-- for how otherwise
could the old man have got to know about us?

NowthereforeMakar AlexievitchI turn to you for help. Do
notfor God's sakeleave me in this plight. Borrow all the
money that you can getfor I have not the wherewithal to leave
these lodgingsyet cannot possibly remain in them any longer. At
all eventsthis is Thedora's advice. She and I need at least
twenty-five roubleswhich I will repay you out of what I earn by
my workwhile Thedora shall get me additional work from day to
dayso thatif there be heavy interest to pay on the loanyou
shall not be troubled with the extra burden. NayI will make
over to you all that I possess if only you will continue to help
me. TrulyI grieve to have to trouble you when you yourself are
so hardly situatedbut my hopes rest upon youand upon you
alone. GoodbyeMakar Alexievitch. Think of meand may God speed
you on your errand!

August 4th.

MY BELOVED BARBARA ALEXIEVNA--These unlooked-for blows have
shaken me terriblyand these strange calamities have quite

broken my spirit. Not content with trying to bring you to a bed
of sicknessthese lickspittles and pestilent old men are trying
to bring me to the same. And I assure you that they are
succeeding--I assure you that they are. Yet I would rather die
than not help you. If I cannot help you I SHALL die; butto
enable me to help youyou must flee like a bird out of the nest
where these owlsthese birds of preyare seeking to peck you to
death. How distressed I feelmy dearest! Yet how cruel you
yourself are! Although you are enduring pain and insultalthough
youlittle nestlingare in agony of spirityou actually tell
me that it grieves you to disturb meand that you will work off
your debt to me with the labour of your own hands! In other
wordsyouwith your weak healthare proposing to kill yourself
in order to relieve me to term of my financial embarrassments!
Stop a momentand think what you are saying. WHY should you sew
and workand torture your poor head with anxietyand spoil your
beautiful eyesand ruin your health? Whyindeed? Ahlittle
Barbaralittle Barbara! Do you not see that I shall never be any
good to younever any good to you? At all eventsI myself see
it. Yet I WILL help you in your distress. I WILL overcome every
difficultyI WILL get extra work to doI WILL copy out
manuscripts for authorsI WILL go to the latter and force them
to employ meI WILL so apply myself to the work that they shall
see that I am a good copyist (and good copyistsI knoware
always in demand). Thus there will be no need for you to exhaust
your strengthnor will I allow you to do so--I will not have you
carry out your disastrous intention. . . Yeslittle angelI
will certainly borrow some money. I would rather die than not do
so. Merely tell memy own darlingthat I am not to shrink from
heavy interestand I will not shrink from itI will not shrink
from it--nayI will shrink from nothing. I will ask for forty
roublesto begin with. That will not be muchwill itlittle
Barbara? Yet will any one trust me even with that sum at the
first asking? Do you think that I am capable of inspiring
confidence at the first glance? Would the mere sight of my face
lead any one to form of me a favourable opinion? Have I ever been
ableremember youto appear to anyone in a favourable light?
What think you? PersonallyI see difficulties in the wayand
feel sick at heart at the mere prospect. Howeverof those forty
roubles I mean to set aside twenty-five for yourselftwo for my
landladyand the remainder for my own spending. Of courseI
ought to give more than two to my landladybut you must remember
my necessitiesand see for yourself that that is the most that
can be assigned to her. We need say no more about it. For one
rouble I shall buy me a new pair of shoesfor I scarcely know
whether my old ones will take me to the office tomorrow morning.
Alsoa new neck-scarf is indispensableseeing that the old one
has now passed its first year; butsince you have promised to
make of your old apron not only a scarfbut also a shirt-front
I need think no more of the article in question. So much for
shoes and scarves. Nextfor buttons. You yourself will agree
that I cannot do without buttons; nor is there on my garments a
single hem unfrayed. I tremble when I think that some day his
Excellency may perceive my untidinessand say--wellwhat will
he NOT say? Yet I shall never hear what he saysfor I shall have
expired where I sit--expired of mere shame at the thought of
having been thus exposed. Ahdearest! . . . Wellmy various
necessities will have left me three roubles to go on with. Part
of this sum I shall expend upon a half-pound of tobacco--for I
cannot live without tobaccoand it is nine days since I last put
a pipe into my mouth. To tell the truthI shall buy the tobacco
without acquainting you with the factalthough I ought not so to
do. The pity of it all is thatwhile you are depriving yourself
of everythingI keep solacing myself with various amenities-

which is why I am telling you thisthat the pangs of conscience
may not torment me. FranklyI confess that I am in desperate
straits--in such straits as I have never yet known. My landlady
flouts meand I enjoy the respect of noone; my arrears and debts
are terrible; and in the officethough never have I found the
place exactly a paradisenoone has a single word to say to me.
Yet I hideI carefully hidethis from every one. I would hide
my person in the same waywere it not that daily I have to
attend the office where I have to be constantly on my guard
against my fellows. Neverthelessmerely to be able to CONFESS
this to you renews my spiritual strength. We must not think of
these thingsBarbaralest the thought of them break our
courage. I write them down merely to warn you NOT to think of
themnor to torture yourself with bitter imaginings. Yetmy
Godwhat is to become of us? Stay where you are until I can come
to you; after which I shall not return hitherbut simply
disappear. Now I have finished my letterand must go and shave
myselfinasmuch aswhen that is doneone always feels more
decentas well as consorts more easily with decency. God speed
me! One prayer to Himand I must be off.

August 5th.

DEAREST MAKAR ALEXIEVITCH- You must not despair. Away with
melancholy! I am sending you thirty kopecks in silverand regret
that I cannot send you more. Buy yourself what you most need
until tomorrow. I myself have almost nothing leftand what I am
going to do I know not. Is it not dreadfulMakar Alexievitch?
Yet do not be downcast--it is no good being that. Thedora
declares that it would not be a bad thing if we were to remain in
this tenementsince if we left it suspicions would ariseand
our enemies might take it into their heads to look for us. On the
other handI do not think it would be well for us to remain
here. If I were feeling less sad I would tell you my reason.

What a strange man you areMakar Alexievitch! You take things so
much to heart that you never know what it is to be happy. I read
your letters attentivelyand can see from them thatthough you
worry and disturb yourself about meyou never give a thought to
yourself. Yesevery letter tells me that you have a kind heart;
but I tell YOU that that heart is overly kind. So I will give you
a little friendly adviceMakar Alexievitch. I am full of
gratitude towards you--I am indeed full for all that you have
done for meI am most sensible of your goodness; butto think
that I should be forced to see thatin spite of your own
troubles (of which I have been the involuntary cause)you live
for me alone--you live but for MY joys and MY sorrows and MY
affection! If you take the affairs of another person so to heart
and suffer with her to such an extentI do not wonder that you
yourself are unhappy. Todaywhen you came to see me after
office-work was doneI felt afraid even to raise my eyes to
yoursfor you looked so pale and desperateand your face had so
fallen in. Yesyou were dreading to have to tell me of your
failure to borrow money--you were dreading to have to grieve and
alarm me; butwhen you saw that I came very near to smilingthe
load wasI knowlifted from your heart. So do not be
despondentdo not give waybut allow more rein to your better
sense. I beg and implore this of youfor it will not be long
before you see things take a turn for the better. You will but
spoil your life if you constantly lament another person's sorrow.

Goodbyedear friend. I beseech you not to be over-anxious about

B. D.
August 5th.

MY DARLING LITTLE BARBARA--This is wellthis is wellmy angel!
So you are of opinion that the fact that I have failed to obtain
any money does not matter? Then I too am reassuredI too am
happy on your account. AlsoI am delighted to think that you are
not going to desert your old friendbut intend to remain in your
present lodgings. Indeedmy heart was overcharged with joy when
I read in your letter those kindly words about myselfas well as
a not wholly unmerited recognition of my sentiments. I say this
not out of pridebut because now I know how much you love me to
be thus solicitous for my feelings. How good to think that I may
speak to you of them! You bid medarlingnot be faint-hearted.
Indeedthere is no need for me to be so. Thinkfor instanceof
the pair of shoes which I shall be wearing to the office
tomorrow! The fact is that over-brooding proves the undoing of a
man--his complete undoing. What has saved me is the fact that it
is not for myself that I am grievingthat I am sufferingbut
for YOU. Nor would it matter to me in the least that I should
have to walk through the bitter cold without an overcoat or
boots--I could bear itI could well endure itfor I am a simple
man in my requirements; but the point is--what would people say
what would every envious and hostile tongue exclaimwhen I was
seen without an overcoat? It is for OTHER folk that one wears an
overcoat and boots. In any casethereforeI should have needed
boots to maintain my name and reputation; to both of which my
ragged footgear would otherwise have spelled ruin. Yesit is so
my belovedand you may believe an old man who has had many years
of experienceand knows both the world and mankindrather than
a set of scribblers and daubers.

But I have not yet told you in detail how things have gone with
me today. During the morning I suffered as much agony of spirit
as might have been experienced in a year. 'Twas like this: First
of allI went out to call upon the gentleman of whom I have
spoken. I started very earlybefore going to the office. Rain
and sleet were fallingand I hugged myself in my greatcoat as I
walked along. "Lord thought I, pardon my offencesand send me
fulfilment of all my desires;" and as I passed a church I crossed
myselfrepented of my sinsand reminded myself that I was
unworthy to hold communication with the Lord God. Then I retired
into myselfand tried to look at nothing; and sowalking
without noticing the streetsI proceeded on my way. Everything
had an empty airand everyone whom I met looked careworn and
preoccupiedand no wonderfor who would choose to walk abroad
at such an early hourand in such weather? Next a band of ragged
workmen met meand jostled me boorishly as they passed; upon
which nervousness overtook meand I felt uneasyand tried hard
not to think of the money that was my errand. Near the
Voskresenski Bridge my feet began to ache with wearinessuntil I
could hardly pull myself along; until presently I met with
Ermolaeva writer in our officewhostepping asidehalted
and followed me with his eyesas though to beg of me a glass of
vodka. "Ahfriend thought I, go YOU to your vodkabut what
have I to do with such stuff?" Thensadly wearyI halted for a
moment's restand thereafter dragged myself further on my way.
Purposely I kept looking about me for something upon which to

fasten my thoughtswith which to distractto encourage myself;
but there was nothing. Not a single idea could I connect with any
given objectwhilein additionmy appearance was so draggled
that I felt utterly ashamed of it. At length I perceived from
afar a gabled house that was built of yellow wood. ThisI
thoughtmust be the residence of the Monsieur Markov whom Emelia
Ivanovitch had mentioned to me as ready to lend money on
interest. Half unconscious of what I was doingI asked a
watchman if he could tell me to whom the house belonged;
whereupon grudginglyand as though he were vexed at something
the fellow muttered that it belonged to one Markov. Are ALL
watchmen so unfeeling? Why did this one reply as he did? In any
case I felt disagreeably impressedfor like always answers to
likeandno matter what position one is inthings invariably
appear to correspond to it. Three times did I pass the house and
walk the length of the street; until the further I walkedthe
worse became my state of mind. "Nonevernever will he lend me
anything!" I thought to myselfHe does not know me, and my
affairs will seem to him ridiculous, and I shall cut a sorry
figure. However, let fate decide for me. Only, let Heaven send
that I do not afterwards repent me, and eat out my heart with
remorse!Softly I opened the wicket-gate. Horrors! A great
ragged brute of a watch-dog came flying out at meand foaming at
the mouthand nearly jumping out his skin! Curious is it to note
what littletrivial incidents will nearly make a man crazyand
strike terror to his heartand annihilate the firm purpose with
which he has armed himself. At all eventsI approached the house
more dead than aliveand walked straight into another
catastrophe. That is to saynot noticing the slipperiness of the
thresholdI stumbled against an old woman who was filling milk-
jugs from a pailand sent the milk flying in every direction!
The foolish old dame gave a start and a cryand then demanded of
me whither I had been comingand what it was I wanted; after
which she rated me soundly for my awkwardness. Always have I
found something of the kind befall me when engaged on errands of
this nature. It seems to be my destiny invariably to run into
something. Upon thatthe noise and the commotion brought out the
mistress of the house--an old beldame of mean appearance. I
addressed myself directly to her: "Does Monsieur Markov live
here?" was my inquiry. "No she replied, and then stood looking
at me civilly enough. But what want you with him?" she
continued; upon which I told her about Emelia Ivanovitch and the
rest of the business. As soon as I had finishedshe called her
daughter--a barefooted girl in her teens-- and told her to summon
her father from upstairs. MeanwhileI was shown into a room
which contained several portraits of generals on the walls and
was furnished with a sofaa large tableand a few pots of
mignonette and balsam. "Shall Ior shall I not (come wealcome
woe) take myself off?" was my thought as I waited there. Ahhow
I longed to run away! "Yes I continued, I had better come
again tomorrowfor the weather may then be betterand I shall
not have upset the milkand these generals will not be looking
at me so fiercely." In factI had actually begun to move towards
the door when Monsieur Markov entered--a grey-headed man with
thievish eyesand clad in a dirty dressing-gown fastened with a
belt. Greetings overI stumbled out something about Emelia
Ivanovitch and forty roublesand then came to a dead haltfor
his eyes told me that my errand had been futile. "No." said he
I have no money. Moreover, what security could you offer?I
admitted that I could offer nonebut again added something about
Emeliaas well as about my pressing needs. Markov heard me out
and then repeated that he had no money. " Ah thought I, I
might have known this--I might have foreseen it!" Andto tell
the truthBarbaraI could have wished that the earth had opened

under my feetso chilled did I feel as he said what he didso
numbed did my legs grow as shivers began to run down my back.
Thus I remained gazing at him while he returned my gaze with a
look which saidWell now, my friend? Why do you not go since
you have no further business to do here?Somehow I felt
conscience-stricken. "How is it that you are in such need of
money?" was what he appeared to be asking; whereuponI opened my
mouth (anything rather than stand there to no purpose at all!)
but found that he was not even listening. "I have no money
again he said, or I would lend you some with pleasure." Several
times I repeated that I myself possessed a littleand that I
would repay any loan from him punctuallymost punctuallyand
that he might charge me what interest he likedsince I would
meet it without fail. Yesat that moment I remembered our
misfortunesour necessitiesand I remembered your half-rouble.
No,said heI can lend you nothing without security,and
clinched his assurance with an oaththe robber!

How I contrived to leave the house andpassing through
Viborskaia Streetto reach the Voskresenski Bridge I do not
know. I only remember that I feltterribly wearycoldand
starvedand that it was ten o'clock before I reached the office.
ArrivingI tried to clean myself up a littlebut Sniegirevthe
portersaid that it was impossible for me to do soand that I
should only spoil the brushwhich belonged to the Government.
Thusmy darlingdo such fellows rate me lower than the mat on
which they wipe their boots! What is it that will most surely
break me? It is not the want of moneybut the LITTLE worries of
life--these whisperings and nods and jeers. Anyday his Excellency
himself may round upon me. Ahdearestmy golden days are gone.
Today I have spent in reading your letters through; and the
reading of them has made me sad. Goodbyemy ownand may the
Lord watch over you!

P.S.--To conceal my sorrow I would have written this letter half
jestingly; butthe faculty of jesting has not been given me. My
one desirehoweveris to afford you pleasure. Soon I will come
and see youdearest. Without fail I will come and see you.

August 11th.

O Barbara AlexievnaI am undone--we are both of us undone! Both
of us are lost beyond recall! Everything is ruined--my
reputationmy self-respectall that I have in the world! And
you as much as I. Never shall we retrieve what we have lost. I-I
have brought you to this passfor I have become an outcastmy
darling. Everywhere I am laughed at and despised. Even my
landlady has taken to abusing me. Today she overwhelmed me with
shrill reproachesand abased me to the level of a hearth-brush.
And last nightwhen I was in Rataziaev's roomsone of his
friends began to read a scribbled note which I had written to
youand then inadvertently pulled out of my pocket. Oh beloved
what laughter there arose at the recital! How those scoundrels
mocked and derided you and myself! I walked up to them and
accused Rataziaev of breaking faith. I said that he had played
the traitor. But he only replied that I had been the betrayer in
the caseby indulging in various amours. "You have kept them
very dark thoughMr. Lovelace!" said he-- and now I am known
everywhere by this name of "Lovelace." They know EVERYTHING about
usmy darlingEVERYTHING--both about you and your affairs and

about myself; and when today I was for sending Phaldoni to the
bakeshop for something or otherhe refused to gosaying that it
was not his business. "But you MUST go said I. I will not he
replied. You have not paid my mistress what you owe herso I am
not bound to run your errands." At such an insult from a raw
peasant I lost my temperand called him a fool; to which he
retorted in a similar vein. Upon this I thought that he must be
drunkand told him so; whereupon he replied: "WHAT say you that
I am? Suppose you yourself go and sober upfor I know that the
other day you went to visit a womanand that you got drunk with
her on two grivenniks." To such a pass have things come! I feel
ashamed to be seen alive. I amas it werea man proclaimed; I
am in a worse plight even than a tramp who has lost his passport.
How misfortunes are heaping themselves upon me! I am lost--I am
lost for ever!

M. D.
August 13th.

MY BELOVED MAKAR ALEXIEVITCH--It is true that misfortune is
following upon misfortune. I myself scarcely know what to do.
Yetno matter how you may be fairingyou must not look for help
from mefor only today I burned my left hand with the iron! At
one and the same moment I dropped the ironmade a mistake in my
workand burned myself! So now I can no longer work. Alsothese
three days pastThedora has been ailing. My anxiety is becoming
positively torturous. NeverthelessI send you thirty kopecks-almost
the last coins that I have left to memuch as I should
have liked to have helped you more when you are so much in need.
I feel vexed to the point of weeping. Goodbyedear friend of
mine. You will bring me much comfort if only you will come and
see me today.

B. D.
August 14th.

What is the matter with youMakar Alexievitch? Surely you cannot
fear the Lord God as you ought to do? You are not only driving me
to distraction but also ruining yourself with this eternal
solicitude for your reputation. You are a man of honournobility
of characterand self-respectas everyone knows; yetat any
momentyou are ready to die with shame! Surely you should have
more consideration for your grey hairs. Nothe fear of God has
departed from you. Thedora has told you that it is out of my
power to render you anymore help. Seethereforeto what a pass
you have brought me! Probably you think it is nothing to me that
you should behave so badly; probably you do not realise what you
have made me suffer. I dare not set foot on the staircase here
for if I do so I am stared atand pointed atand spoken about
in the most horrible manner. Yesit is even said of me that I am
united to a drunkard.What a thing to hear! And whenever you
are brought home drunk folk sayThey are carrying in that
tchinovnik.THAT is not the proper way to make me help you. I
swear that I MUST leave this placeand go and get work as a cook
or a laundress. It is impossible for me to stay here. Long ago I
wrote and asked you to come and see meyet you have not come.
Truly my tears and prayers must mean NOTHING to youMakar
Alexievitch! Whencetoodid you get the money for your

debauchery? For the love of God be more careful of yourselfor
you will be ruined. How shamefulhow abominable of you! So the
landlady would not admit you last nightand you spent the night
on the doorstep? OhI know all about it. Yet if only you could
have seen my agony when I heard the news! . . . Come and see me
Makar Alexievitchand we will once more be happy together. Yes
we will read togetherand talk of old timesand Thedora shall
tell you of her pilgrimages in former days. For God's sake
beloveddo not ruin both yourself and me. I live for you alone;
it is for your sake alone that I am still here. Be your better
self once more--the self which still can remain firm in the face
of misfortune. Poverty is no crime; always remember that. After
allwhy should we despair? Our present difficulties will pass
awayand God will right us. Only be brave. I send you two
grivenniks for the purchase of some tobacco or anything else that
you need; butfor the love of heavendo not spend the money
foolishly. Come you and see me soon; come without fail. Perhaps
you may be ashamed to meet meas you were beforebut you NEED
not feel like that--such shame would be misplaced. Only do bring
with you sincere repentance and trust in Godwho orders all
things for the best.

B. D.
August 19th.

MY DEAREST BARBARA ALEXIEVNA-YesI AM ashamed to meet youmy
darling--I AM ashamed. At the same timewhat is there in all
this? Why should we not be cheerful again? Why should I mind the
soles of my feet coming through my boots? The sole of one's foot
is a mere bagatelle--it will never be anything but just a base
dirty sole. And shoes do not mattereither. The Greek sages used
to walk about without themso why should we coddle ourselves
with such things? Yet whyalsoshould I be insulted and
despised because of them? Tell Thedora that she is a rubbishy
tiresomegabbling old womanas well as an inexpressibly foolish
one. As for my grey hairsyou are quite wrong about them
inasmuch as I am not such an old man as you think. Emelia sends
you his greeting. You write that you are in great distressand
have been weeping. WellI too am in great distressand have
been weeping. Naynay. I wish you the best of health and
happinesseven as I am well and happy myselfso long as I may
remainmy darling--Your friend


August 21st.

feel that I have sinned against you. Yet also I feelfrom what
you saythat it is no use for me so to feel. Even before I had
sinned I felt as I do now; but I gave way to despairand the
more so as recognised my fault. DarlingI am not cruel or
hardhearted. To rend your little soul would be the act of a
blood-thirsty tigerwhereas I have the heart of a sheep. You
yourself know that I am not addicted to bloodthirstinessand
therefore that I cannot really be guilty of the fault in
questionseeing that neither my mind nor my heart have
participated in it.

Nor can I understand wherein the guilt lies. To me it is all a
mystery. When you sent me those thirty kopecksand thereafter
those two grivenniksmy heart sank within me as I looked at the
poor little money. To think that though you had burned your hand
and would soon be hungryyou could write to me that I was to buy
tobacco! What was I to do? Remorselessly to rob youan orphan
as any brigand might do? I felt greatly depresseddearest. That
is to saypersuaded that I should never do any good with my
lifeand that I was inferior even to the sole of my own bootI
took it into my head that it was absurd for me to aspire at all-rather
that I ought to account myself a disgrace and an
abomination. Once a man has lost his self-respectand has
decided to abjure his better qualities and human dignityhe
falls headlongand cannot choose but do so. It is decreed of
fateand therefore I am not guilty in this respect.

That evening I went out merely to get a breath of fresh airbut
one thing followed another-- the weather was coldall nature was
looking mournfuland I had fallen in with Emelia. This man had
spent everything that he possessedandat the time I met him
had not for two days tasted a crust of bread. He had tried to
raise money by pawningbut what articles he had for the purpose
had been refused by the pawnbrokers. It was more from sympathy
for a fellow-man than from any liking for the individual that I
yielded. That is how the fault arosedearest.

He spoke of youand I mingled my tears with his. Yeshe is a
man of kindkind heart--a man of deep feeling. I often feel as
he diddearestandin additionI know how beholden to you I
am. As soon as ever I got to know you I began both to realise
myself and to love you; for until you came into my life I had
been a lonely man--I had beenas it wereasleep rather than
alive. In former days my rascally colleagues used to tell me that
I was unfit even to be seen; in factthey so disliked me that at
length I began to dislike myselfforbeing frequently told that
I was stupidI began to believe that I really was so. But the
instant that YOU came into my lifeyou lightened the dark places
in ityou lightened both my heart and my soul. GraduallyI
gained rest of spirituntil I had come to see that I was no
worse than other menand thatthough I had neither style nor
brilliancy nor polishI was still a MAN as regards my thoughts
and feelings. But nowalas! pursued and scorned of fateI have
again allowed myself to abjure my own dignity. Oppressed of
misfortuneI have lost my courage. Here is my confession to you
dearest. With tears I beseech you not to inquire further into the
matterfor my heart is breakingand life has grown indeed hard
and bitter for me--BelovedI offer you my respectand remain
ever your faithful friend


September 3rd.

The reason why I did not finish my last letterMakar
Alexievitchwas that I found it so difficult to write. There are
moments when I am glad to be alone--to grieve and repine without
any one to share my sorrow: and those moments are beginning to
come upon me with ever-increasing frequency. Always in my
reminiscences I find something which is inexplicableyet
strongly attractive-so much so that for hours together I remain
insensible to my surroundingsoblivious of reality. Indeedin
my present life there is not a single impression that I

encounter--pleasant or the reverse-- which does not recall to my
mind something of a similar nature in the past. More particularly
is this the case with regard to my childhoodmy golden
childhood. Yet such moments always leave me depressed. They
render me weakand exhaust my powers of fancy; with the result
that my healthalready not goodgrows steadily worse.

Howeverthis morning it is a finefreshcloudless daysuch as
we seldom get in autumn. The air has revived me and I greet it
with joy. Yet to think that already the fall of the year has
come! How I used to love the country in autumn! Then but a child
I was yet a sensitive being who loved autumn evenings better than
autumn mornings. I remember how beside our houseat the foot of
a hillthere lay a large pondand how the pond--I can see it
even now!--shone with a broadlevel surface that was as clear as
crystal. On still evenings this pond would be at restand not a
rustle would disturb the trees which grew on its banks and
overhung the motionless expanse of water. How fresh it used to
seemyet how cold! The dew would be falling upon the turf
lights would be beginning to shine forth from the huts on the
pond's marginand the cattle would be wending their way home.
Then quietly I would slip out of the house to look at my beloved
pondand forget myself in contemplation. Here and there a
fisherman's bundle of brushwood would be burning at the water's
edgeand sending its light far and wide over the surface. Above
the sky would be of a cold blue coloursave for a fringe of
flame-coloured streaks on the horizon that kept turning ever
paler and paler; and when the moon had come out there would be
wafted through the limpid air the sounds of a frightened bird
flutteringof a bulrush rubbing against its fellows in the
gentle breezeand of a fish rising with a splash. Over the dark
water there would gather a thintransparent mist; and thoughin
the distancenight would be loomingand seemingly enveloping
the entire horizoneverything closer at hand would be standing
out as though shaped with a chisel--banksboatslittle islands
and all. Beside the margin a derelict barrel would be turning
over and over in the water; a switch of laburnumwith yellowing
leaveswould go meandering through the reeds; and a belated gull
would flutter updive again into the cold depthsrise once
moreand disappear into the mist. How I would watch and listen
to these things! How strangely good they all would seem! But I
was a mere infant in those days--a mere child.

Yestruly I loved autumn-tide--the late autumn when the crops
are garneredand field work is endedand the evening gatherings
in the huts have begunand everyone is awaiting winter. Then
does everything become more mysteriousthe sky frowns with
cloudsyellow leaves strew the paths at the edge of the naked
forestand the forest itself turns black and blue--more
especially at eventide when damp fog is spreading and the trees
glimmer in the depths like giantslike formlessweird phantoms.
Perhaps one may be out lateand had got separated from one's
companions. Oh horrors! Suddenly one starts and trembles as one
seems to see a strange-looking being peering from out of the
darkness of a hollow treewhile all the while the wind is
moaning and rattling and howling through the forest--moaning with
a hungry sound as it strips the leaves from the bare boughsand
whirls them into the air. High over the tree-topsin a
widespreadtrailingnoisy crewthere flywith resounding
criesflocks of birds which seem to darken and overlay the very
heavens. Then a strange feeling comes over oneuntil one seems
to hear the voice of some one whispering: "Runrunlittle
child! Do not be out latefor this place will soon have become
dreadful! Runlittle child! Run!" And at the words terror will

possess one's souland one will rush and rush until one's breath
is spent--untilpantingone has reached home.

At homehoweverall will look bright and bustling as we
children are set to shell peas or poppiesand the damp twigs
crackle in the stoveand our mother comes to look fondly at our
workand our old nurseIlianatells us stories of bygone days
or terrible legends concerning wizards and dead men. At the
recital we little ones will press closer to one anotheryet
smile as we do so; when suddenlyeveryone becomes silent. Surely
somebody has knocked at the door? . . . But naynay; it is only
the sound of Frolovna's spinning-wheel. What shouts of laughter
arise! Later one will be unable to sleep for fear of the strange
dreams which come to visit one; orif one falls asleepone will
soon wake againandafraid to stirlie quaking under the
coverlet until dawn. And in the morningone will arise as fresh
as a lark and look at the windowand see the fields overlaid
with hoarfrostand fine icicles hanging from the naked branches
and the pond covered over with ice as thin as paperand a white
steam rising from the surfaceand birds flying overhead with
cheerful cries. Nextas the sun riseshe throws his glittering
beams everywhereand melts the thinglassy ice until the whole
scene has come to look bright and clear and exhilarating; and as
the fire begins to crackle again in the stovewe sit down to the
tea-urnwhilechilled with the night coldour black dog
Polkanwill look in at us through the windowand wag his tail
with a cheerful air. Presentlya peasant will pass the window in
his cart bound for the forest to cut firewoodand the whole
party will feel merry and contented together. Abundant grain lies
stored in the byresand great stacks of wheat are glowing
comfortably in the morning sunlight. Everyone is quiet and happy
for God has blessed us with a bounteous harvestand we know that
there will be abundance of food for the wintertide. Yesthe
peasant may rest assured that his family will not want for aught.
Song and dance will arise at night from the village girlsand on
festival days everyone will repair to God's house to thank Him
with grateful tears for what He has done . . . . Aha golden
time was my time of childhood! . . .

Carried away by these memoriesI could weep like a child.
Everythingeverything comes back so clearly to my recollection!
The past stands out so vividly before me! Yet in the present
everything looks dim and dark! How will it all end?--how? Do you
knowI have a feelinga sort of sure premonitionthat I am
going to die this coming autumn; for I feel terriblyoh so
terribly ill! Often do I think of deathyet feel that I should
not like to die here and be laid to rest in the soil of St.
Petersburg. Once more I have had to take to my bedas I did last
springfor I have never really recovered. Indeed I feel so
depressed! Thedora has gone out for the dayand I am alone. For
a long while past I have been afraid to be left by myselffor I
keep fancying that there is someone else in the roomand that
that someone is speaking to me. Especially do I fancy this when
I have gone off into a reverieand then suddenly awoken from it
and am feeling bewildered. That is why I have made this letter
such a long one; forwhen I am writingthe mood passes away.
Goodbye. I have neither time nor paper left for moreand must
close. Of the money which I saved to buy a new dress and hat
there remains but a single rouble; butI am glad that you have
been able to pay your landlady two roublesfor they will keep
her tongue quiet for a time. And you must repair your wardrobe.

Goodbye once more. I am so tired! Nor can I think why I am
growing so weak--why it is that even the smallest task now

wearies me? Even if work should come my wayhow am I to do it?
That is what worries me above all things.

B. D.
September 5th.

MY BELOVED BARBARA--Today I have undergone a variety of
experiences. In the first placemy head has been achingand
towards evening I went out to get a breath of fresh air along the
Fontanka Canal. The weather was dull and dampand even by six
o'clockdarkness had begun to set in. Truerain was not
actually fallingbut only a mist like rainwhile the sky was
streaked with masses of trailing cloud. Crowds of people were
hurrying along Naberezhnaia Streetwith faces that looked
strange and dejected. There were drunken peasants; snub-nosed old
harridans in slippers; bareheaded artisans; cab drivers; every
species of beggar; boys; a locksmith's apprentice in a striped
smockwith leanemaciated features which seemed to have been
washed in rancid oil; an ex-soldier who was offering penknives
and copper rings for sale; and so onand so on. It was the hour
when one would expect to meet no other folk than these. And what
a quantity of boats there were on the canal. It made one wonder
how they could all find room there. On every bridge were old
women selling damp gingerbread or withered applesand every
woman looked as damp and dirty as her wares. In shortthe
Fontanka is a saddening spot for a walkfor there is wet granite
under one's feetand talldingy buildings on either side of
oneand wet mist below and wet mist above. Yesall was dark and
gloomy there this evening.

By the time I had returned to Gorokhovaia Street darkness had
fallen and the lamps had been lit. HoweverI did not linger long
in that particular spotfor Gorokhovaia Street is too noisy a
place. But what sumptuous shops and stores it contains!
Everything sparkles and glittersand the windows are full of
nothing but bright colours and materials and hats of different
shapes. One might think that they were decked merely for display;
but no--people buy these thingsand give them to their wives!
Yesit IS a sumptuous place. Hordes of German hucksters are
thereas well as quite respectable traders. And the quantities
of carriages which pass along the street! One marvels that the
pavement can support so many splendid vehicleswith windows like
crystallinings made of silk and velvetand lacqueys dressed in
epaulets and wearing swords! Into some of them I glancedand saw
that they contained ladies of various ages. Perhaps they were
princesses and countesses! Probably at that hour such folk would
be hastening to balls and other gatherings. In factit was
interesting to be able to look so closely at a princess or a
great lady. They were all very fine. At all eventsI had never
before seen such persons as I beheld in those carriages. . . .

Then I thought of you. Ahmy ownmy darlingit is often that I
think of you and feel my heart sink. How is it that YOU are so
unfortunateBarbara? How is it that YOU are so much worse off
than other people? In my eyes you are kind-heartedbeautiful
and clever-- whythenhas such an evil fate fallen to your lot?
How comes it that you are left desolate--youso good a human
being! While to others happiness comes without an invitation at
all? YesI know--I know it well--that I ought not to say itfor
to do so savours of free-thought; but why should that raven
Fatecroak out upon the fortunes of one person while she is yet

in her mother's wombwhile another person it permits to go forth
in happiness from the home which has reared her? To even an idiot
of an Ivanushka such happiness is sometimes granted. "Youyou
fool Ivanushka says Fate, shall succeed to your grandfather's
money-bagsand eatdrinkand be merry; whereas YOU (such and
such another one) shall do no more than lick the dishsince that
is all that you are good for." YesI know that it is wrong to
hold such opinionsbut involuntarily the sin of so doing grows
upon one's soul. Neverthelessit is youmy darlingwho ought
to be riding in one of those carriages. Generals would have come
seeking your favourandinstead of being clad in a humble
cotton dressyou would have been walking in silken and golden
attire. Then you would not have been thin and wan as nowbut
fresh and plump and rosy-cheeked as a figure on a sugar-cake.
Then should I too have been happy--happy if only I could look at
your lighted windows from the streetand watch your shadow-happy
if only I could think that you were well and happymy
sweet little bird! Yet how are things in reality? Not only have
evil folk brought you to ruinbut there comes also an old rascal
of a libertine to insult you! Just because he struts about in a
frockcoatand can ogle you through a gold-mounted lorgnettethe
brute thinks that everything will fall into his hands--that you
are bound to listen to his insulting condescension! Out upon him!
But why is this? It is because you are an orphanit is because
you are unprotectedit is because you have no powerful friend to
afford you the decent support which is your due. WHAT do such
facts matter to a man or to men to whom the insulting of an
orphan is an offence allowed? Such fellows are not men at all
but mere verminno matter what they think themselves to be. Of
that I am certain. Whyan organ-grinder whom I met in
Gorokhovaia Street would inspire more respect than they dofor
at least he walks about all dayand suffers hunger--at least he
looks for a straysuperfluous groat to earn him subsistenceand
isthereforea true gentlemanin that he supports himself. To
beg alms he would be ashamed; andmoreoverhe works for the
benefit of mankind just as does a factory machine. "So far as in
me lies says he, I will give you pleasure." Truehe is a
pauperand nothing but a pauper; butat least he is an
HONOURABLE pauper. Though tired and hungryhe still goes on
working--working in his own peculiar fashionyet still doing
honest labour. Yesmany a decent fellow whose labour may be
disproportionate to its utility pulls the forelock to no oneand
begs his bread of no one. I myself resemble that organ-grinder.
That is to saythough not exactly heI resemble him in this
respectthat I work according to my capabilitiesand so far as
in me lies. More could be asked of no one; nor ought I to be
adjudged to do more.

Apropos of the organ-grinderI may tell youdearestthat today
I experienced a double misfortune. As I was looking at the
grindercertain thoughts entered my head and I stood wrapped in
a reverie. Some cabmen also had halted at the spotas well as a
young girlwith a yet smaller girl who was dressed in rags and
tatters. These people had halted there to listen to the organ-
grinderwho was playing in front of some one's windows. NextI
caught sight of a little urchin of about ten--a boy who would
have been good-looking but for the fact that his face was pinched
and sickly. Almost barefootedand clad only in a shirthe was
standing agape to listen to the music--a pitiful childish figure.
Nearer to the grinder a few more urchins were dancingbut in the
case of this lad his hands and feet looked numbedand he kept
biting the end of his sleeve and shivering. AlsoI noticed that
in his hands he had a paper of some sort. Presently a gentleman
came byand tossed the grinder a small coinwhich fell straight

into a box adorned with a representation of a Frenchman and some
ladies. The instant he heard the rattle of the cointhe boy
startedlooked timidly roundand evidently made up his mind
that I had thrown the money; whereuponhe ran to me with his
little hands all shakingand said in a tremulous voice as he
proffered me his paper: "Pl-please sign this." I turned over the
paperand saw that there was written on it what is usual under
such circumstances. "Kind friends I am a sick mother with three
hungry children. Pray help me. Though soon I shall be deadyet
if you will not forget my little ones in this worldneither will
I forget you in the world that is to come." The thing seemed
clear enough; it was a matter of life and death. Yet what was I
to give the lad? WellI gave him nothing. But my heart ached for
him. I am certain thatshivering with cold though he wasand
perhaps hungrythe poor lad was not lying. Nonohe was not

The shameful point is that so many mothers take no care of their
childrenbut send them outhalf-cladinto the cold. Perhaps
this lad's mother also was a feckless old womanand devoid of
character? Or perhaps she had no one to work for herbut was
forced to sit with her legs crossed--a veritable invalid? Or
perhaps she was just an old rogue who was in the habit of sending
out pinched and hungry boys to deceive the public? What would
such a boy learn from begging letters? His heart would soon be
rendered callousforas he ran about beggingpeople would pass
him by and give him nothing. Yestheir hearts would be as stone
and their replies rough and harsh. "Away with you!" they would
say. "You are seeking but to trick us." He would hear that from
every oneand his heart would grow hardand he would shiver in
vain with the coldlike some poor little fledgling that has
fallen out of the nest. His hands and feet would be freezingand
his breath coming with difficulty; untillook youhe would
begin to coughand diseaselike an unclean parasitewould worm
its way into his breast until death itself had overtaken him-overtaken
him in some foetid corner whence there was no chance of
escape. Yesthat is what his life would become.

There are many such cases. AhBarbarait is hard to hear "For
Christ's sake!" and yet pass the suppliant by and give nothing
or say merely: "May the Lord give unto you!" Of courseSOME
supplications mean nothing (for supplications differ greatly in
character). Occasionally supplications are longdrawn-out and
drawlingstereotyped and mechanical--they are purely begging
supplications. Requests of this kind it is less hard to refuse
for they are purely professional and of long standing. "The
beggar is overdoing it one thinks to oneself. He knows the
trick too well." But there are other supplications which voice a
strangehoarseunaccustomed notelike that today when I took
the poor boy's paper. He had been standing by the kerbstone
without speaking to anybody-- save that at last to myself he
saidFor the love of Christ give me a groat!in a voice so
hoarse and broken that I startedand felt a queer sensation in
my heartalthough I did not give him a groat. IndeedI had not
a groat on me. Rich folk dislike hearing poor people complain of
their poverty. "They disturb us they say, and are impertinent
as well. Why should poverty be so impertinent? Why should its
hungry moans prevent us from sleeping?"

To tell you the truthmy darlingI have written the foregoing
not merely to relieve my feelingsbutalsostill moreto give
you an example of the excellent style in which I can write. You
yourself will recognise that my style was formed long agobut of
late such fits of despondency have seized upon me that my style

has begun to correspond to my feelings; and though I know that
such correspondence gains one littleit at least renders one a
certain justice. For not unfrequently it happens thatfor some
reason or anotherone feels abasedand inclined to value
oneself at nothingand to account oneself lower than a
dishclout; but this merely arises from the fact that at the time
one is feeling harassed and depressedlike the poor boy who
today asked of me alms. Let me tell you an allegorydearestand
do you hearken to it. Oftenas I hasten to the office in the
morningI look around me at the city--I watch it awaking
getting out of bedlighting its firescooking its breakfast
and becoming vocal; and at the sightI begin to feel smalleras
though some one had dealt me a rap on my inquisitive nose. Yes
at such times I slink along with a sense of utter humiliation in
my heart. For one would have but to see what is passing within
those greatblackgrimy houses of the capitaland to penetrate
within their wallsfor one at once to realise what good reason
there is for self-depredation and heart-searching. Of courseyou
will note that I am speaking figuratively rather than literally.

Let us look at what is passing within those houses. In some dingy
cornerperhapsin some damp kennel which is supposed to be a
rooman artisan has just awakened from sleep. All night he has
dreamt--IF such an insignificant fellow is capable of dreaming?-about
the shoes which last night he mechanically cut out. He is a
master-shoemakeryou seeand therefore able to think of nothing
but his one subject of interest. Nearby are some squalling
children and a hungry wife. Nor is he the only man that has to
greet the day in this fashion. Indeedthe incident would be
nothing--it would not be worth writing aboutsave for another
circumstance. In that same house ANOTHER person--a person of
great wealth-may also have been dreaming of shoes; butof shoes
of a very different pattern and fashion (in a manner of speaking
if you understand my metaphorwe are all of us shoemakers).
Thisagainwould be nothingwere it not that the rich person
has no one to whisper in his ear: "Why dost thou think of such
things? Why dost thou think of thyself aloneand live only for
thyself--thou who art not a shoemaker? THY children are not
ailing. THY wife is not hungry. Look around thee. Can'st thou not
find a subject more fitting for thy thoughts than thy shoes?"
That is what I want to say to you in allegorical language
Barbara. Maybe it savours a little of free-thoughtdearest; but
such ideas WILL keep arising in my mind and finding utterance in
impetuous speech. Whythereforeshould one not value oneself at
a groat as one listens in fear and trembling to the roar and
turmoil of the city? Maybe you think that I am exaggerating
things--that this is a mere whim of mineor that I am quoting
from a book? NonoBarbara. You may rest assured that it is not
so. Exaggeration I abhorwith whims I have nothing to doand of
quotation I am guiltless.

I arrived home today in a melancholy mood. Sitting down to the
tableI had warmed myself some teaand was about to drink a
second glass of itwhen there entered Gorshkovthe poor lodger.
Alreadythis morningI had noticed that he was hovering around
the other lodgersand also seeming to want to speak to myself.
In passing I may say that his circumstances are infinitely worse
than my own; foronly think of ithe has a wife and children!
Indeedif I were heI do not know what I should do. Wellhe
entered my roomand bowed to me with the pus standingas usual
in drops on his eyelasheshis feet shuffling aboutand his
tongue unableat firstto articulate a word. I motioned him to
a chair (it was a dilapidated enough onebut I had no other)
and asked him to have a glass of tea. To this he demurred--for

quite a long time he demurredbut at length he accepted the
offer. Nexthe was for drinking the tea without sugarand
renewed his excusesbut upon the sugar I insisted. After long
resistance and many refusalshe DID consent to take somebut
only the smallest possible lump; after whichhe assured me that
his tea was perfectly sweet. To what depths of humility can
poverty reduce a man! "Wellwhat is itmy good sir?" I inquired
of him; whereupon he replied: "It is thisMakar Alexievitch. You
have once before been my benefactor. Pray again show me the
charity of Godand assist my unfortunate family. My wife and
children have nothing to eat. To think that a father should have
to say this!" I was about to speak again when he interrupted me.
You see,he continuedI am afraid of the other lodgers here.
That is to say, I am not so much afraid of, as ashamed to address
them, for they are a proud, conceited lot of men. Nor would I
have troubled even you, my friend and former benefactor, were it
not that I know that you yourself have experienced misfortune and
are in debt; wherefore, I have ventured to come and make this
request of you, in that I know you not only to be kind-hearted,
but also to be in need, and for that reason the more likely to
sympathise with me in my distress.To this he added an apology
for his awkwardness and presumption. I replied thatglad though
I should have been to serve himI had nothingabsolutely
nothingat my disposal. "AhMakar Alexievitch he went on,
surely it is not much that I am asking of you? My-my wife and
children are starving. C-could you not afford me just a
grivennik? " At that my heart contractedHow these people put
me to shame!thought I. But I had only twenty kopecks leftand
upon them I had been counting for meeting my most pressing
requirements. "Nogood sirI cannot said I. Wellwhat you
will he persisted. Perhaps ten kopecks?" Well I got out my
cash-boxand gave him the twenty. It was a good deed. To think
that such poverty should exist! Then I had some further talk with
him. "How is it I asked him, thatthough you are in such
straitsyou have hired a room at five roubles?" He replied that
thoughwhen he engaged the room six months agohe paid three
months' rent in advancehis affairs had subsequently turned out
badlyand never righted themselves since. You seeBarbarahe
was sued at law by a merchant who had defrauded the Treasury in
the matter of a contract. When the fraud was discovered the
merchant was prosecutedbut the transactions in which he had
engaged involved Gorshkovalthough the latter had been guilty
only of negligencewant of prudenceand culpable indifference
to the Treasury's interests. Truethe affair had taken place
some years agobut various obstacles had since combined to
thwart Gorshkov. "Of the disgrace put upon me said he to me, I
am innocent. TrueI to a certain extent disobeyed ordersbut
never did I commit theft or embezzlement." Nevertheless the
affair lost him his character. He was dismissed the serviceand
though not adjudged capitally guiltyhas been unable since to
recover from the merchant a large sum of money which is his by
rightas spared to him (Gorshkov) by the legal tribunal. True
the tribunal in question did not altogether believe in Gorshkov
but I do so. The matter is of a nature so complex and crooked
that probably a hundred years would be insufficient to unravel
it; andthough it has now to a certain extent been cleared up
the merchant still holds the key to the situation. Personally I
side with Gorshkovand am very sorry for him. Though lacking a
post of any kindhe still refuses to despairthough his
resources are completely exhausted. Yesit is a tangled affair
and meanwhile he must liveforunfortunatelyanother child
which has been born to him has entailed upon the family fresh
expenses. Alsoanother of his children recently fell ill and
died-- which meant yet further expense. Lastlynot only is his

wife in bad healthbut he himself is suffering from a complaint
of long standing. In shorthe has had a very great deal to
undergo. Yet he declares that daily he expects a favourable issue
to his affair--that he has no doubt of it whatever. I am terribly
sorry for himand said what I could to give him comfortfor he
is a man who has been much bullied and misled. He had come to me
for protection from his troublesso I did my best to soothe him.
Nowgoodbyemy darling. May Christ watch over you and preserve
your health. Dearest oneeven to think of you is like medicine
to my ailing soul. Though I suffer for youI at least suffer
gladly.--Your true friend


September 9th.

MY DEAREST BARBARA ALEXIEVNA--I am beside myself as I take up my
penfor a most terrible thing has happened. My head is whirling
round. Ahbelovedhow am I to tell you about it all? I had
never foreseen what has happened. But no-- I cannot say that I
had NEVER foreseen itfor my mind DID get an inkling of what was
comingthrough my seeing something very similar to it in a

I will tell you the whole story--simplyand as God may put it
into my heart. Today I went to the office as usualandupon
arrivalsat down to write. You must know that I had been engaged
on the same sort of work yesterdayand thatwhile executing it
I had been approached by Timothei Ivanovitch with an urgent
request for a particular document. "Makar Alexievitch he had
said, pray copy this out for me. Copy it as quickly and as
carefully as you canfor it will require to be signed today."
Also let me tell youdearestthat yesterday I had not been
feeling myselfnor able to look at anything. I had been troubled
with grave depression--my breast had felt chilledand my head
clouded. All the while I had been thinking of youmy darling.
WellI set to work upon the copyingand executed it cleanly and
wellexcept for the fact thatwhether the devil confused my
mindor a mysterious fate so ordainedor the occurrence was
simply bound to happenI left out a whole line of the document
and thus made nonsense of it! The work had been given me too late
for signature last nightso it went before his Excellency this
morning. I reached the office at my usual hourand sat down
beside Emelia Ivanovitch. Here I may remark that for a long time
past I have been feeling twice as shy and diffident as I used to
do; I have been finding it impossible to look people in the face.
Let only a chair creakand I become more dead than alive. Today
thereforeI crept humbly to my seat and sat down in such a
crouching posture that Efim Akimovitch (the most touchy man in
the world) said to me sotto voce: "What on earth makes you sit
like thatMakar Alexievitch?" Then he pulled such a grimace that
everyone near us rocked with laughter at my expense. I stopped my
earsfrownedand sat without movingfor I found this the best
method of putting a stop to such merriment. All at once I heard a
bustle and a commotion and the sound of someone running towards
us. Did my ears deceive me? It was I who was being summoned in
peremptory tones! My heart started to tremble within methough I
could not say why. I only know that never in my life before had
it trembled as it did then. Still I clung to my chair- -and at
that moment was hardly myself at all. The voices were coming
nearer and neareruntil they were shouting in my ear:
Dievushkin! Dievushkin! Where is Dievushkin?Then at length I

raised my eyesand saw before me Evstafi Ivanovitch. He said to
me: "Makar Alexievitchgo at once to his Excellency. You have
made a mistake in a document." That was allbut it was enough
was it not? I felt dead and cold as ice--I felt absolutely
deprived of the power of sensation; butI rose from my seat and
went whither I had been bidden. Through one roomthrough two
roomsthrough three rooms I passeduntil I was conducted into
his Excellency's cabinet itself. Of my thoughts at that moment I
can give no exact account. I merely saw his Excellency standing
before mewith a knot of people around him. I have an idea that
I did not salute him--that I forgot to do so. Indeedso panic-
stricken was Ithat my teeth were chattering and my knees
knocking together. In the first placeI was greatly ashamed of
my appearance (a glance into a mirror on the right had frightened
me with the reflection of myself that it presented)andin the
second placeI had always been accustomed to comport myself as
though no such person as I existed. Probably his Excellency had
never before known that I was even alive. Of coursehe might
have heardin passingthat there was a man named Dievushkin in
his department; but never for a moment had he had any intercourse
with me.

He began angrily: "What is this you have donesir? Why are you
not more careful? The document was wanted in a hurryand you
have gone and spoiled it. What do you think of it?"--the last
being addressed to Evstafi Ivanovitch. More I did not hear
except for some flying exclamations of "What negligence and
carelessness! How awkward this is!" and so on. I opened my mouth
to say something or other; I tried to beg pardonbut could not.
To attempt to leave the roomI had not the hardihood. Then there
happened something the recollection of which causes the pen to
tremble in my hand with shame. A button of mine--the devil take
it!--a button of mine that was hanging by a single thread
suddenly broke offand hopped and skipped and rattled and rolled
until it had reached the feet of his Excellency himself--this
amid a profound general silence! THAT was what came of my
intended self-justification and plea for mercy! THAT was the only
answer that I had to return to my chief!

The sequel I shudder to relate. At once his Excellency's
attention became drawn to my figure and costume. I remembered
what I had seen in the mirrorand hastened to pursue the button.
Obstinacy of a sort seized upon meand I did my best to arrest
the thingbut it slipped awayand kept turning over and over
so that I could not grasp itand made a sad spectacle of myself
with my awkwardness. Then there came over me a feeling that my
last remaining strength was about to leave meand that allall
was lost--reputationmanhoodeverything! In both ears I seemed
to hear the voices of Theresa and Phaldoni. At lengthhoweverI
grasped the buttonandraising and straightening myselfstood
humbly with clasped hands--looking a veritable fool! But no.
First of all I tried to attach the button to the ragged threads
and smiled each time that it broke away from themand smiled
again. In the beginning his Excellency had turned awaybut now
he threw me another glanceand I heard him say to Evstafi
Ivanovitch: "What on earth is the matter with the fellow? Look at
the figure he cuts! Who to God is he? Ahbelovedonly to hear
thatWho to God is he? Truly I had made myself a marked man! In
reply to his Excellency Evstafi murmured: He is no one of any
notethough his character is good. Besideshis salary is
sufficient as the scale goes." "Very wellthen; but help him out
of his difficulties somehow said his Excellency. Give him a
trifle of salary in advance." "It is all forestalled was the
reply. He drew it some time ago. But his record is good. There

is nothing against him." At this I felt as though I were in Hell
fire. I could actually have died! "Wellwell said his
Excellency, let him copy out the document a second time.
Dievushkincome here. You are to make another copy of this
paperand to make it as quickly as possible." With that he
turned to some other officials presentissued to them a few
ordersand the company dispersed. No sooner had they done so
than his Excellency hurriedly pulled out a pocket-booktook
thence a note for a hundred roublesandwith the wordsTake
this. It is as much as I can afford. Treat it as you like,
placed the money in my hand! At thisdearestI started and
trembledfor I was moved to my very soul. What next I did I
hardly knowexcept that I know that I seized his Excellency by
the hand. But he only grew very redand then--noI am not
departing by a hair's-breadth from the truth--it is true-- that
he took this unworthy hand in hisand shook it! Yeshe took
this hand of mine in hisand shook itas though I had been his
equalas though I had been a general like himself! "Go now he
said. This is all that I can do for you. Make no further
mistakesand I will overlook your fault."

What I think about it is this: I beg of you and of Thedoraand
had I any children I should beg of them alsoto pray ever to God
for his Excellency. I should say to my children: "For your father
you need not pray; but for his ExcellencyI bid you pray until
your lives shall end." Yesdear one--I tell you this in all
solemnityso hearken well unto my words--that thoughduring
these cruel days of our adversityI have nearly died of distress
of soul at the sight of you and your povertyas well as at the
sight of myself and my abasement and helplessnessI yet care
less for the hundred roubles which his Excellency has given me
than for the fact that he was good enough to take the hand of a
wretched drunkard in his own and press it. By that act he
restored me to myself. By that act he revived my couragehe made
life forever sweet to me. . . . Yessure am I thatsinner
though I be before the Almightymy prayers for the happiness and
prosperity of his Excellency will yet ascend to the Heavenly
Throne! . . .

Butmy darlingfor the moment I am terribly agitated and
distraught. My heart is beating as though it would burst my
breastand all my body seems weak. . . . I send you forty-five
roubles in notes. Another twenty I shall give to my landladyand
the remaining thirty-five I shall keep--twenty for new clothes
and fifteen for actual living expenses. But these experiences of
the morning have shaken me to the coreand I must rest awhile.
It is quietvery quiethere. My breath is coming in jerks--deep
down in my breast I can hear it sobbing and trembling. . . . I
will come and see you soonbut at the moment my head is aching
with these various sensations. God sees all thingsmy darling
my priceless treasure!--Your steadfast friend


September 10th.

MY BELOVED MAKAR ALEXIEVITCH--I am unspeakably rejoiced at your
good fortuneand fully appreciate the kindness of your superior.
Nowtake a rest from your cares. Only do not AGAIN spend money
to no advantage. Live as quietly and as frugally as possibleand
from today begin always to set aside somethinglest misfortune
again overtake you. Do notfor God's sakeworry yourself-

Thedora and I will get on somehow. Why have you sent me so much
money? I really do not need it--what I had already would have
been quite sufficient. TrueI shall soon be needing further
funds if I am to leave these lodgingsbut Thedora is hoping
before long to receive repayment of an old debt. Of courseat
least TWENTY roubles will have to be set aside for indispensable
requirementsbut theremainder shall be returned to you. Pray
take care of itMakar Alexievitch. Nowgoodbye. May your life
continue peacefullyand may you preserve your health and
spirits. I would have written to you at greater length had I not
felt so terribly weary. Yesterday I never left my bed. I am glad
that you have promised to come and see me. Yesyou MUST pay me a

B. D.
September 11th.

MY DARLING BARBARA ALEXIEVNA--I implore you not to leave me now
that I am once more happy and contented. Disregard what Thedora
saysand I will do anything in the world for you. I will behave
myself bettereven if only out of respect for his Excellency
and guard my every action. Once more we will exchange cheerful
letters with one anotherand make mutual confidence of our
thoughts and joys and sorrows (if so be that we shall know any
more sorrows?). Yeswe will live twice as happily and
comfortably as of old. Alsowe will exchange books. . . . Angel
of my hearta great change has taken place in my fortunes--a
change very much for the better. My landlady has become more
accommodating; Theresa has recovered her senses; even Phaldoni
springs to do my bidding. LikewiseI have made my peace with
Rataziaev. He came to see me of his own accordthe moment that
he heard the glad tidings. There can be no doubt that he is a
good fellowthat there is no truth in the slanders that one
hears of him. For one thingI have discovered that he never had
any intention of putting me and yourself into a book. This he
told me himselfand then read to me his latest work. As for his
calling me "Lovelace he had intended no rudeness or indecency
thereby. The term is merely one of foreign derivation, meaning a
clever fellow, or, in more literary and elegant language, a
gentleman with whom one must reckon. That is all; it was a mere
harmless jest, my beloved. Only ignorance made me lose my temper,
and I have expressed to him my regret. . . . How beautiful is the
weather today, my little Barbara! True, there was a slight frost
in the early morning, as though scattered through a sieve, but it
was nothing, and the breeze soon freshened the air. I went out to
buy some shoes, and obtained a splendid pair. Then, after a
stroll along the Nevski Prospect, I read The Daily Bee". This
reminds me that I have forgotten to tell you the most important
thing of all. It happened like this:

This morning I had a talk with Emelia Ivanovitch and Aksenti
Michaelovitch concerning his Excellency. ApparentlyI am not the
only person to whom he has acted kindly and been charitablefor
he is known to the whole world for his goodness of heart. In many
quarters his praises are to be heard; in many quarters he has
called forth tears of gratitude. Among other thingshe undertook
the care of an orphaned girland married her to an officialthe
son of a poor widowand found this man place in a certain
chancelloryand in other ways benefited him. WelldearestI
considered it to be my duty to add my mite by publishing abroad
the story of his Excellency's gracious treatment of myself.

AccordinglyI related the whole occurrence to my interlocutors
and concealed not a single detail. In factI put my pride into
my pocket--though why should I feel ashamed of having been elated
by such an occurrence? "Let it only be noised afield said I to
myself, and it will resound greatly to his Excellency's credit.-So
I expressed myself enthusiastically on the subject and never
faltered. On the contrary, I felt proud to have such a story to
tell. I referred to every one concerned (except to yourself, of
course, dearest)--to my landlady, to Phaldoni, to Rataziaev, to
Markov. I even mentioned the matter of my shoes! Some of those
standing by laughed--in fact every one present did so, but
probably it was my own figure or the incident of my shoes--more
particularly the latter--that excited merriment, for I am sure it
was not meant ill-naturedly. My hearers may have been young men,
or well off; certainly they cannot have been laughing with evil
intent at what I had said. Anything against his Excellency CANNOT
have been in their thoughts. Eh, Barbara?

Even now I cannot wholly collect my faculties, so upset am I by
recent events. . . . Have you any fuel to go on with, Barbara?
You must not expose yourself to cold. Also, you have depressed my
spirits with your fears for the future. Daily I pray to God on
your behalf. Ah, HOW I pray to Him! . . . Likewise, have you any
woollen stockings to wear, and warm clothes generally? Mind you,
if there is anything you need, you must not hurt an old man's
feelings by failing to apply to him for what you require. The bad
times are gone now, and the future is looking bright and fair.

But what bad times they were, Barbara, even though they be gone,
and can no longer matter! As the years pass on we shall gradually
recover ourselves. How clearly I remember my youth! In those days
I never had a kopeck to spare. Yet, cold and hungry though I was,
I was always light-hearted. In the morning I would walk the
Nevski Prospect, and meet nice-looking people, and be happy all
day. Yes, it was a glorious, a glorious time! It was good to be
alive, especially in St. Petersburg. Yet it is but yesterday that
I was beseeching God with tears to pardon me my sins during the
late sorrowful period--to pardon me my murmurings and evil
thoughts and gambling and drunkenness. And you I remembered in my
prayers, for you alone have encouraged and comforted me, you
alone have given me advice and instruction. I shall never forget
that, dearest. Today I gave each one of your letters a kiss. . .
. Goodbye, beloved. I have been told that there is going to be a
sale of clothing somewhere in this neighbourhood. Once more
goodbye, goodbye, my angel-Yours in heart and soul,


September 15th.

MY DEAREST MAKAR ALEXIEVITCH,--I am in terrible distress. I feel
sure that something is about to happen. The matter, my beloved
friend, is that Monsieur Bwikov is again in St. Petersburg, for
Thedora has met him. He was driving along in a drozhki, but, on
meeting Thedora, he ordered the coachman to stop, sprang out, and
inquired of her where she was living; but this she would not tell
him. Next, he said with a smile that he knew quite well who was
living with her (evidently Anna Thedorovna had told him);
whereupon Thedora could hold out no longer, but then and there,
in the street, railed at and abused him--telling him that he was
an immoral man, and the cause of all my misfortunes. To this he
replied that a person who did not possess a groat must surely be

rather badly off; to which Thedora retorted that I could always
either live by the labour of my hands or marry--that it was not
so much a question of my losing posts as of my losing my
happiness, the ruin of which had led almost to my death. In reply
he observed that, though I was still quite young, I seemed to
have lost my wits, and that my virtue appeared to be under a
cloud" (I quote his exact words). Both I and Thedora had thought
that he does not know where I live; butlast nightjust as I
had left the house to make a few purchases in the Gostinni Dvor
he appeared at our rooms (evidently he had not wanted to find me
at home)and put many questions to Thedora concerning our way of
living. Thenafter inspecting my workhe wound up with: "Who is
this tchinovnik friend of yours?" At the moment you happened to
be passing through the courtyardso Thedora pointed you outand
the man peered at youand laughed. Thedora next asked him to
depart--telling him that I was still ill from griefand that it
would give me great pain to see him there; to whichafter a
pausehe replied that he had come because he had had nothing
better to do. Alsohe was for giving Thedora twenty-five
roublesbutof courseshe declined them. What does it all
mean? Why has he paid this visit? I cannot understand his getting
to know about me. I am lost in conjecture. Thedorahoweversays
that Aksiniaher sister-in-law (who sometimes comes to see her)
is acquainted with a laundress named Nastasiaand that this
woman has a cousin in the position of watchman to a department of
which a certain friend of Anna Thedorovna's nephew forms one of
the staff. Can it bethereforethat an intrigue has been
hatched through THIS channel? But Thedora may be entirely
mistaken. We hardly know what to think. What if he should come
again? The very thought terrifies me. When Thedora told me of
this last night such terror seized upon me that I almost swooned
away. What can the man be wanting? At all eventsI refuse to
know such people. What have they to do with my wretched self? Ah
how I am haunted with anxietyfor every moment I keep thinking
that Bwikov is at hand! WHAT will become of me? WHAT MORE has
fate in store for me? For Christ's sake come and see meMakar
Alexievitch! For Christ's sake come and see me soon!

September 18th.

MY BELOVED BARBARA ALEXIEVNA--Today there took place in this
house a most lamentablea most mysteriousa most unlooked-for
occurrence. First of alllet me tell you that poor Gorshkov has
been entirely absolved of guilt. The decision has been long in
comingbut this morning he went to hear the final resolution
read. It was entirely in his favour. Any culpability which had
been imputed to him for negligence and irregularity was removed
by the resolution. Likewisehe was authorised to recover of the
merchant a large sum of money. Thushe stands entirely
justifiedand has had his character cleansed from all stain. In
shorthe could not have wished for a more complete vindication.
When he arrived home at three o'clock he was looking as white as
a sheetand his lips were quivering. Yet there was a smile on
his face as he embraced his wife and children. In a body the rest
of us ran to congratulate himand he was greatly moved by the
act. Bowing to ushe pressed our hands in turn. As he did so I
thoughtsomehowthat he seemed to have grown taller and
straighterand that the pus-drops seemed to have disappeared
from his eyelashes. Yet how agitated he waspoor fellow! He
could not rest quietly for two minutes togetherbut kept picking
up and then dropping whatsoever came to his handand bowing and
smiling without intermissionand sitting down and getting up

and again sitting downand chattering God only knows what about
his honour and his good name and his little ones. How he did
talk--yesand weep too! Indeedfew of ourselves could refrain
from tears; although Rataziaev remarked (probably to encourage
Gorshkov) that honour mattered nothing when one had nothing to
eatand that money was the chief thing in the worldand that
for it alone ought God to be thanked. Then he slapped Gorshkov on
the shoulderbut I thought that Gorshkov somehow seemed hurt at
this. He did not express any open displeasurebut threw
Rataziaev a curious lookand removed his hand from his shoulder.
ONCE upon a time he would not have acted thus; but characters
differ. For exampleI myself should have hesitatedat such a
season of rejoicingto seem proudeven though excessive
deference and civility at such a moment might have been construed
as a lapse both of moral courage and of mental vigour. However
this is none of my business. All that Gorshkov said was: "Yes
money IS a good thingglory be to God!" In factthe whole time
that we remained in his room he kept repeating to himself: "Glory
be to Godglory be to God!" His wife ordered a richer and more
delicate meal than usualand the landlady herself cooked itfor
at heart she is not a bad woman. But until the meal was served
Gorshkov could not remain still. He kept entering everyone's room
in turn (whether invited thither or not)andseating himself
smilingly upon a chairwould sometimes say somethingand
sometimes not utter a wordbut get up and go out again. In the
naval officer's room he even took a pack of playing-cards into
his handand was thereupon invited to make a fourth in a game;
but after losing a few timesas well as making several blunders
in his playhe abandoned the pursuit. "No said he, that is
the sort of man that I am--that is all that I am good for and
departed. Next, encountering myself in the corridor, he took my
hands in his, and gazed into my face with a rather curious air.
Then he pressed my hands again, and moved away still smiling,
smiling, but in an odd, weary sort of manner, much as a corpse
might smile. Meanwhile his wife was weeping for joy, and
everything in their room was decked in holiday guise. Presently
dinner was served, and after they had dined Gorshkov said to his
wife: See nowdearestI am going to rest a little while;" and
with that went to bed. Presently he called his little daughter to
his sideandlaying his hand upon the child's headlay a long
while looking at her. Then he turned to his wife againand asked
her: "What of Petinka? Where is our Petinka?" whereupon his wife
crossed herselfand replied: "Whyour Petinka is dead!" "Yes
yesI know--of course said her husband. Petinka is now in the
Kingdom of Heaven." This showed his wife that her husband was not
quite in his right senses--that the recent occurrence had upset
him; so she said: "My dearestyou must sleep awhile." "I will do
so he replied, --at once--I am rather--" And he turned over
and lay silent for a time. Then again he turned round and tried
to say somethingbut his wife could not hear what it was. "What
do you say?" she inquiredbut he made no reply. Then again she
waited a few moments until she thought to herselfHe has gone
to sleep,and departed to spend an hour with the landlady. At
the end of that hour she returned-- only to find that her husband
had not yet awokenbut was still lying motionless. "He is
sleeping very soundly she reflected as she sat down and began
to work at something or other. Since then she has told us that
when half an hour or so had elapsed she fell into a reverie.
What she was thinking of she cannot remember, save that she had
forgotten altogether about her husband. Then she awoke with a
curious sort of sensation at her heart. The first thing that
struck her was the deathlike stillness of the room. Glancing at
the bed, she perceived her husband to be lying in the same
position as before. Thereupon she approached him, turned the

coverlet back, and saw that he was stiff and cold-- that he had
died suddenly, as though smitten with a stroke. But of what
precisely he died God only knows. The affair has so terribly
impressed me that even now I cannot fully collect my thoughts. It
would scarcely be believed that a human being could die so
simply--and he such a poor, needy wretch, this Gorshkov! What a
fate, what a fate, to be sure! His wife is plunged in tears and
panic-stricken, while his little daughter has run away somewhere
to hide herself. In their room, however, all is bustle and
confusion, for the doctors are about to make an autopsy on the
corpse. But I cannot tell you things for certain; I only know
that I am most grieved, most grieved. How sad to think that one
never knows what even a day, what even an hour, may bring forth!
One seems to die to so little purpose! .-Your own


September 19th.

MY BELOVED BARBARA ALEXIEVNA,--I hasten to let you know that
Rataziaev has found me some work to do for a certain writer--the
latter having submitted to him a large manuscript. Glory be to
God, for this means a large amount of work to do. Yet, though the
copy is wanted in haste, the original is so carelessly written
that I hardly know how to set about my task. Indeed, certain
parts of the manuscript are almost undecipherable. I have agreed
to do the work for forty kopecks a sheet. You see therefore (and
this is my true reason for writing to you), that we shall soon be
receiving money from an extraneous source. Goodbye now, as I must
begin upon my labours.--Your sincere friend,


September 23rd.

MY DEAREST MAKAR ALEXIEVITCH,--I have not written to you these
three days past for the reason that I have been so worried and

Three days ago Bwikov came again to see me. At the time I was
alone, for Thedora had gone out somewhere. As soon as I opened
the door the sight of him so terrified me that I stood rooted to
the spot, and could feel myself turning pale. Entering with his
usual loud laugh, he took a chair, and sat down. For a long while
I could not collect my thoughts; I just sat where I was, and went
on with my work. Soon his smile faded, for my appearance seemed
somehow to have struck him. You see, of late I have grown thin,
and my eyes and cheeks have fallen in, and my face has become as
white as a sheet; so that anyone who knew me a year ago would
scarcely recognise me now. After a prolonged inspection, Bwikov
seemed to recover his spirits, for he said something to which I
duly replied. Then again he laughed. Thus he sat for a whole
hour- -talking to me the while, and asking me questions about one
thing and another. At length, just before he rose to depart, he
took me by the hand, and said (to quote his exact words):
Between ourselvesBarbara Alexievnathat kinswoman of yours
and my good friend and acquaintance--I refer to Anna Thedorovna is
a very bad woman " (he also added a grosser term of
opprobrium). "First of all she led your cousin astrayand then
she ruined yourself. I also have behaved like a villainbut such

is the way of the world." Again he laughed. Nexthaving remarked
thatthough not a master of eloquencehe had always considered
that obligations of gentility obliged him to have with me a clear
and outspoken explanationhe went on to say that he sought my
hand in marriage; that he looked upon it as a duty to restore to
me my honour; that he could offer me riches; thatafter
marriagehe would take me to his country seat in the Steppes
where we would hunt hares; that he intended never to visit St.
Petersburg againsince everything there was horribleand he had
to entertain a worthless nephew whom he had sworn to disinherit
in favour of a legal heir; andfinallythat it was to obtain
such a legal heir that he was seeking my hand in marriage.
Lastlyhe remarked that I seemed to be living in very poor
circumstances (which was not surprisingsaid hein view of the
kennel that I inhabited); that I should die if I remained a month
longer in that den; that all lodgings in St. Petersburg were
detestable; and that he would be glad to know if I was in want of

So thunderstruck was I with the proposal that I could only burst
into tears. These tears he interpreted as a sign of gratitude
for he told me that he had always felt assured of my good sense
clevernessand sensibilitybut that hitherto he had hesitated
to take this step until he should have learned precisely how I
was getting on. Next he asked me some questions about YOU; saying
that he had heard of you as a man of good principleand that
since he was unwilling to remain your debtorwould a sum of five
hundred roubles repay you for all you had done for me? To this I
replied that your services to myself had been such as could never
be requited with money; whereuponhe exclaimed that I was
talking rubbish and nonsense; that evidently I was still young
enough to read poetry; that romances of this kind were the
undoing of young girlsthat books only corrupted moralityand
thatfor his parthe could not abide them. "You ought to live
as long as I have done he added, and THEN you will see what
men can be."

With that he requested me to give his proposal my favourable
consideration--saying that he would not like me to take such an
important step unguardedlysince want of thought and impetuosity
often spelt ruin to youthful inexperiencebut that he hoped to
receive an answer in the affirmative. "Otherwise said he, I
shall have no choice but to marry a certain merchant's daughter
in Moscowin order that I may keep my vow to deprive my nephew
of the inheritance.--Then he pressed five hundred roubles into my
hand--to buy myself some bonbonsas he phrased it--and wound up
by saying that in the country I should grow as fat as a doughnut
or a cheese rolled in butter; that at the present moment he was
extremely busy; and thatdeeply engaged in business though he
had been all dayhe had snatched the present opportunity of
paying me a visit. At length he departed.

For a long time I sat plunged in reflection. Great though my
distress of mind wasI soon arrived at a decision.... My friend
I am going to marry this man; I have no choice but to accept his
proposal. If anyone could save me from this squalorand restore
to me my good nameand avert from me future poverty and want and
misfortunehe is the man to do it. What else have I to look for
from the future? What more am I to ask of fate? Thedora declares
that one need NEVER lose one's happiness; but whatI ask HER
can be called happiness under such circumstances as mine? At all
events I see no other road opendear friend. I see nothing else
to be done. I have worked until I have ruined my health. I cannot
go on working forever. Shall I go out into the world? Nay; I am

worn to a shadow with griefand become good for nothing. Sickly
by natureI should merely be a burden upon other folks. Of
course this marriage will not bring me paradisebut what else
does there remainmy friend--what else does there remain? What
other choice is left?

I had not asked your advice earlier for the reason that I wanted
to think the matter over alone. Howeverthe decision which you
have just read is unalterableand I am about to announce it to
Bwikov himselfwho in any case has pressed me for a speedy
replyowing to the fact (so he says) that his business will not
wait nor allow him to remain here longerand that thereforeno
trifle must be allowed to stand in its way. God alone knows
whether I shall be happybut my fate is in His holyHis
inscrutable handand I have so decided. Bwikov is said to be
kind-hearted. He will at least respect meand perhaps I shall be
able to return that respect. What more could be looked for from
such a marriage?

I have now told you allMakar Alexievitchand feel sure that
you will understand my despondency. Do nothowevertry to
divert me from my intentionfor all your efforts will be in
vain. Think for a moment; weigh in your heart for a moment all
that has led me to take this step. At first my anguish was
extremebut now I am quieter. What awaits me I know not. What
must be must beand as God may send....

Bwikov has just arrivedso I am leaving this letter unfinished.
Otherwise I had much else to say to you. Bwikov is even now at
the door! ...

September 23rd.

MY BELOVED BARBARA ALEXIEVNA--I hasten to reply to you--I hasten
to express to you my extreme astonishment. . . . In passingI
may mention that yesterday we buried poor Gorshkov. . . .

YesBwikov has acted noblyand you have no choice but to accept
him. All things are in God's hands. This is soand must always
be so; and the purposes of the Divine Creator are at once good
and inscrutableas also is Fatewhich is one with Him. . . .

Thedora will share your happiness--forof courseyou will be
happyand free from wantdarlingdearestsweetest of angels!
But why should the matter be so hurried? Ohof course--Monsieur
Bwikov's business affairs. Only a man who has no affairs to see
to can afford to disregard such things. I got a glimpse of
Monsieur Bwikov as he was leaving your door. He is a fine-looking
man--a very fine-looking man; though that is not the point that I
should most have noticed had I been quite myself at the time. . .

In the future shall we be able to write letters to one another? I
keep wondering and wondering what has led you to say all that you
have said. To think that just when twenty pages of my copying are
completed THIS has happened! . . . I suppose you will be able to
make many purchases now--to buy shoes and dresses and all sorts
of things? Do you remember the shops in Gorokhovaia Street of
which I used to speak? . . .

But no. You ought not to go out at present--you simply ought not
toand shall not. Presentlyyou will he able to buy manymany
thingsand tokeep a carriage. Alsoat present the weather is

bad. Rain is descending in pailfulsand it is such a soaking
kind of rain that--that you might catch cold from itmy darling
and the chill might go to your heart. Why should your fear of
this man lead you to take such risks when all the time I am here
to do your bidding? So Thedora declares great happiness to be
awaiting youdoes she? She is a gossiping old womanand
evidently desires to ruin you.

Shall you be at the all-night Mass this eveningdearest? I
should like to come and see you there. YesBwikov spoke but the
truth when he said that you are a woman of virtuewitand good
feeling. Yet I think he would do far better to marry the
merchant's daughter. What think YOU about it? Yes'twould be far
better for him. As soon as it grows dark tonight I mean to come
and sit with you for an hour. Tonight twilight will close in
earlyso I shall soon be with you. Yescome what mayI mean to
see you for an hour. At presentI supposeyou are expecting
Bwikovbut I will come as soon as he has gone. So stay at home
until I have arriveddearest.


September 27th.

DEAR MAKAR ALEXIEVITCH-Bwikov has just informed me that I must
have at least three dozen linen blouses; so I must go at once and
look for sempstresses to make two out of the three dozensince
time presses. IndeedMonsieur Bwikov is quite angry about the
fuss which these fripperies are entailingseeing that there
remain but five days before the weddingand we are to depart on
the following day. He keeps rushing about and declaring that no
time ought to be wasted on trifles. I am terribly worriedand
scarcely able to stand on my feet. There is so much to doand
perhapsso much that were better left undone! MoreoverI have
no blond or other lace; so THERE is another item to be purchased
since Bwikov declares that he cannot have his bride look like a
cookbuton the contraryshe must "put the noses of the great
ladies out of joint." That is his expression. I wishtherefore
that you would go to Madame Chiffon'sin Gorokhovaia Streetand
ask herin the first placeto send me some sempstressesand
in the second placeto give herself the trouble of coming in
personas I am too ill to go out. Our new flat is very coldand
still in great disorder. AlsoBwikov has an aunt who is at her
last gasp through old ageand may die before our departure. He
himselfhoweverdeclares this to be nothingand says that she
will soon recover. He is not yet living with meand I have to go
running hither and thither to find him. Only Thedora is acting as
my servanttogether with Bwikov's valetwho oversees
everythingbut has been absent for the past three days.

Each morning Bwikov goes to businessand loses his temper.
Yesterday he even had some trouble with the police because of his
thrashing the steward of these buildings. . . I have no one to
send with this letter so I am going to post it. . . Ah! I had
almost forgotten the most important point--which is that I should
like you to go and tell Madame Chiffon that I wish the blond lace
to be changed in conformity with yesterday's patternsif she
will be good enough to bring with her a new assortment. Also say
that I have altered my mind about the satinwhich I wish to be
tamboured with crochet-work; alsothat tambour is to be used
with monograms on the various garments. Do you hear? Tambournot
smooth work. Do not forget that it is to be tambour. Another

thing I had almost forgottenwhich is that the lappets of the
fur cloak must be raisedand the collar bound with lace. Please
tell her these thingsMakar Alexievitch.--Your friend

B. D.
P.S.--I am so ashamed to trouble you with my commissions! This is
the third morning that you will have spent in running about for
my sake. But what else am I to do? The whole place is in
disorderand I myself am ill. Do not be vexed with meMakar
Alexievitch. I am feeling so depressed! What is going to become
of medear frienddearkindold Makar Alexievitch? I dread to
look forward into the future. Somehow I feel apprehensive; I am
livingas it werein a mist. Yetfor God's sakeforget none
of my commissions. I am so afraid lest you should make a mistake!
Remember that everything is to be tambour worknot smooth.

September 27th.

MY BELOVED BARBARA ALEXIEVNA--I have carefully fulfilled your
commissions. Madame Chiffon informs me that she herself had
thought of using tambour work as being more suitable (though I
did not quite take in all she said). Alsoshe has informed me
thatsince you have given certain directions in writingshe has
followed them (though again I do not clearly remember all that
she said--I only remember that she said a very great dealfor
she is a most tiresome old woman). These observations she will
soon be repeating to you in person. For myselfI feel absolutely
exhaustedand have not been to the office today. . .

Do not despair about the futuredearest. To save you trouble I
would visit every shop in St. Petersburg. You write that you dare
not look forward into the future. But by tonightat seven
o'clockyou will have learned allfor Madame Chiffon will have
arrived in person to see you. Hope onand everything will order
itself for the best. Of courseI am referring only to these
accursed gewgawsto these frills and fripperies! Ah meah me
how glad I shall be to see youmy angel! Yeshow glad I shall
be! Twice already today I have passed the gates of your abode.
Unfortunatelythis Bwikov is a man of such choler that--Well
things are as they are.


September 28th.

MY DEAREST MAKAR ALEXIEVITCH--For God's sake go to the
jeweller'sand tell him thatafter allhe need not make the
pearl and emerald earrings. Monsieur Bwikov says that they will
cost him too muchthat they will burn a veritable hole in his
pocket. In facthe has lost his temper againand declares that
he is being robbed. Yesterday he added thathad he but known
but foreseenthese expenseshe would never have married. Also
he says thatas things arehe intends only to have a plain
weddingand then to depart. "You must not look for any dancing
or festivity or entertainment of guestsfor our gala times are
still in the air." Such were his words. God knows I do not want
such thingsbut none the less Bwikov has forbidden them. I made
him no answer on the subjectfor he is a man all too easily
irritated. Whatwhat is going to become ofme?

B. D.
September 28th.

MY BELOVED BARBARA ALEXIEVNA--All is well as regards the
jeweller. UnfortunatelyI have also to say that I myself have
fallen illand cannot rise from bed. Just when so many things
need to be doneI have gone and caught a chillthe devil take
it! Also I have to tell you thatto complete my misfortuneshis
Excellency has been pleased to become stricter. Today he railed
at and scolded Emelia Ivanovitch until the poor fellow was quite
put about. That is the sum of my news.

No--there is something else concerning which I should like to
write to youbut am afraid to obtrude upon your notice. I am a
simpledull fellow who writes down whatsoever first comes into
his head--Your friend


September 29th.

MY OWN BARBARA ALEXIEVNA--TodaydearestI saw Thedorawho
informed me that you are to be married tomorrowand on the
following day to go away--for which purpose Bwikov has ordered a

Wellof the incident of his ExcellencyI have already told you.
Also I have verified the bill from the shop in Gorokhovaia
Street. It is correctbut very long. Why is Monsieur Bwikov so
out of humour with you? Naybut you must be of good cheermy
darling. I am soand shall always be soso long as you are
happy. I should have come to the church tomorrowbutalas
shall be prevented from doing so by the pain in my loins. AlsoI
would have written an account of the ceremonybut that there
will be no one to report to me the details. . . .

Yesyou have been a very good friend to Thedoradearest. You
have acted kindlyvery kindlytowards her. For every such deed
God will bless you. Good deeds never go unrewardednor does
virtue ever fail to win the crown of divine justicebe it early
or be it late. Much else should I have liked to write to you.
Every hourevery minute I could occupy in writing. Indeed I
could write to you forever! Only your bookThe Stories of
Bielkinis left to me. Do not deprive me of itI pray youbut
suffer me to keep it. It is not so much because I wish to read
the book for its own sakeas because winter is coming onwhen
the evenings will be long and drearyand one will want to read
at least SOMETHING.

Do you knowI am going to move from my present quarters into
your old oneswhich I intend to rent from Thedora; for I could
never part with that good old woman. Moreovershe is such a
splendid worker. Yesterday I inspected your empty room in detail
and inspected your embroidery-framewith the work still hanging
on it. It had been left untouched in its corner. NextI
inspected the work itselfof which there still remained a few
remnantsand saw that you had used one of my letters for a spool
upon which to wind your thread. Alsoon the table I found a

scrap of paper which had written on itMy dearest Makar
Alexievitch I hasten to--that was all. Evidentlysomeone had
interrupted you at an interesting point. Lastlybehind a screen
there was your little bed. . . . Oh darling of darlings!!! . . .
Wellgoodbye nowgoodbye nowbut for God's sake send me
something in answer to this letter!


September 3Oth.

MY BELOVED MAKAR ALEXIEVITCH--All is over! The die is cast! What
my lot may have in store I know notbut I am submissive to the
will of God. Tomorrowthenwe depart. For the last timeI take
my leave of youmy friend beyond pricemy benefactormy dear
one! Do not grieve for mebut try to live happily. Think of me
sometimesand may the blessing of Almighty God light upon you!
For myselfI shall often have you in remembranceand recall you
in my prayers. Thus our time together has come to an end. Little
comfort in my new life shall I derive from memories of the past.
The morethereforeshall I cherish the recollection of youand
the dearer will you ever be to my heart. Hereyou have been my
only friend; hereyou alone have loved me. YesI have seen all
I have known all--I have throughout known how well you love me. A
single smile of minea single stroke from my penhas been able
to make you happy. . . . But now you must forget me. . . . How
lonely you will be! Why should you stay here at allkind
inestimablebut solitaryfriend of mine?

To your care I entrust the bookthe embroidery frameand the
letter upon which I had begun. When you look upon the few words
which the letter contains you will be able mentally to read in
thought all that you would have liked further to hear or receive
from me--all that I would so gladly have writtenbut can never
now write. Think sometimes of your poor little Barbara who loved
you so well. All your letters I have left behind me in the top
drawer of Thedora's chest of drawers. . . You write that you are
illbut Monsieur Bwikov will not let me leave the house today;
so that I can only write to you. AlsoI will write again before
long. That is a promise. Yet God only knows when I shall be able
to do so. . . .

Now we must bid one another forever farewellmy friendmy
belovedmy own! Yesit must be forever! Ahhow at this moment
I could embrace you! Goodbyedear friend--goodbyegoodbye! May
you ever rest well and happy! To the end I shall keep you in my
prayers. How my heart is aching under its load of sorrow! . . .
Monsieur Bwikov is just calling for me. . . .--Your ever loving

P.S.--My heart is full! It is full to bursting of tears! Sorrow
has me in its gripand is tearing me to pieces. Goodbye. My God
what grief! Do notdo not forget your poor Barbara!

en routeyou are now just about to depart! Would that they had
torn my heart out of my breast rather than have taken you away
from me! How could you allow it? You weepyet you go! And only
this moment I have received from you a letter stained with your

tears! It must be that you are departing unwillingly; it must be
that you are being abducted against your will; it must be that
you are sorry for me; it must be that--that you LOVE me! . . .

Yet how will it fare with you now? Your heart will soon have
become chilled and sick and depressed. Grief will soon have
sucked away its life; grief will soon have rent it in twain! Yes
you will die where you beand be laid to rest in the coldmoist
earth where there is no one to bewail you. Monsieur Bwikov will
only be hunting hares! . . .

Ahmy darlingmy darling! WHY did you come to this decision?
How could you bring yourself to take such a step? What have you
donehave you donehave you done? Soon they will be carrying
you away to the tomb; soon your beauty will have become defiled
my angel. Ahdearest oneyou are as weak as a feather. And
where have I been all this time? What have I been thinking of? I
have treated you merely as a forward child whose head was aching.
Fool that I wasI neither saw nor understood. I have behaved as
thoughright or wrongthe matter was in no way my concern. Yes
I have been running about after fripperies! . . . Ahbut I WILL
leave my bed. Tomorrow I WILL rise sound and welland be once
more myself. . . .

DearestI could throw myself under the wheels of a passing
vehicle rather than that you should go like this. By what right
is it being done? . . . I will go with you; I will run behind
your carriage if you will not take me--yesI will runand run
so long as the power is in meand until my breath shall have
failed. Do you know whither you are going? Perhaps you will not
knowand will have to ask me? Before you there lie the Steppes
my darling--only the Steppesthe naked Steppesthe Steppes that
are as bare as the palm of my hand. THERE there live only
heartless old women and rude peasants and drunkards. THERE the
trees have already shed their leaves. THERE there abide but rain
and cold. Why should you go thither? TrueMonsieur Bwikov will
have his diversions in that country--he will be able to hunt the
hare; but what of yourself? Do you wish to become a mere estate
lady? Nay; look at yourselfmy seraph of heaven. Are you in any
way fitted for such a role? How could you play it? To whom should
I write letters? To whom should I send these missives? Whom
should I call "my darling"? To whom should I apply that name of
endearment? Wheretoocould I find you?

When you are goneBarbaraI shall die--for certain I shall die
for my heart cannot bear this misery. I love you as I love the
light of God; I love you as my own daughter; to you I have
devoted my love in its entirety; only for you have I lived at
all; only because you were near me have I worked and copied
manuscripts and committed my views to paper under the guise of
friendly letters.

Perhaps you did not know all thisbut it has been so. Howthen
my belovedcould you bring yourself to leave me? Nayyou MUST
not go--it is impossibleit is sheerlyit is utterly
impossible. The rain will fall upon youand you are weakand
will catch cold. The floods will stop your carriage. No sooner
will it have passed the city barriers than it will break down
purposely break down. Herein St. Petersburgthey are bad
builders of carriages. YesI know well these carriage-builders.
They are jerry-builders who can fashion a toybut nothing that
is durable. YesI swear they can make nothing that is durable. . . .
All that I can do is to go upon my knees before Monsieur Bwikov
and to tell him allto tell him all. Do you also tell

him alldearestand reason with him. Tell him that you MUST
remain hereand must not go. Ahwhy did he not marry that
merchant's daughter in Moscow? Let him go and marry her now. She
would suit him far better and for reasons which I well know. Then
I could keep you. For what is he to youthis Monsieur Bwikov?
Why has he suddenly become so dear to your heart? Is it because he
can buy you gewgaws? What are THEY? What use are THEY? They are
so much rubbish. One should consider human life rather than mere

Neverthelessas soon as I have received my next instalment of
salary I mean to buy you a new cloak. I mean to buy it at a shop
with which I am acquainted. Onlyyou must wait until my next
installment is duemy angel of a Barbara. AhGodmy God! To
think that you are going away into the Steppes with Monsieur
Bwikov--that you are going away never to return! . . . Naynay
but you SHALL write to me. You SHALL write me a letter as soon as
you have startedeven if it be your last letter of allmy
dearest. Yet will it be your last letter? How has it come about
so suddenlyso irrevocablythat this letter should be your
last? Naynay; I will writeand you shall write--yesNOWwhen
at length I am beginning to improve my style. Style? I do not
know what I am writing. I never do know what I am writing. I
could not possibly knowfor I never read over what I have
writtennor correct its orthography. At the present momentI am
writing merely for the sake of writingand to put as much as
possible into this last letter of mine. . . .

Ahdearestmy petmy own darling!...