Read an Excerpt
By LEO TOLSTOY, T. N. R. ROGERS
Dover Publications, Inc.Copyright © 2004 Dover Publications, Inc
All rights reserved.
Chapter I THOUGH HUNDREDS of thousands had done their very best to disfigure the small piece of land on which they were crowded together: paving the ground with stones, scraping away every vestige of vegetation, cutting down the trees, turning away birds and beasts, filling the air with the smoke of naphtha and coal—still spring was spring, even in the town.
The sun shone warm, the air was balmy, the grass, where it did not get scraped away, revived and sprang up everywhere: between the paving-stones as well as on the narrow strips of lawn on the boulevards. The birches, the poplars, and the wild cherry trees were unfolding their gummy and fragrant leaves, the bursting buds were swelling on the lime trees; crows, sparrows, and pigeons, filled with the joy of spring, were getting their nests ready; the flies were buzzing along the walls warmed by the sunshine. All were glad: the plants, the birds, the insects, and the children. But men, grown-up men and women, did not leave off cheating and tormenting themselves and each other. It was not this spring morning men thought sacred and worthy of consideration, not the beauty of God's world, given for a joy to all creatures—this beauty which inclines the heart to peace, to harmony, and to love—but only their own devices for enslaving one another.
Thus, in the prison office of the Government town, it was not the fact that men and animals had received the grace and gladness of spring that was considered sacred and important, but that a notice, numbered and with a superscription, had come the day before, ordering that on this, the 28th day of April, at 9 A.M., three prisoners now detained in the prison, a man and two women (one of these women, as the chief criminal, to be conducted separately), had to appear at the Court. So now, on the 28th of April, at eight o'clock in the morning, the chief jailer entered the dark, stinking corridor of the women's part of the prison. Immediately after, a woman, with curly grey hair, and a look of suffering on her face, came into the corridor. She was dressed in a jacket with sleeves trimmed with gold lace, and had a blue-edged belt round her waist.
The jailer, rattling the iron padlock, opened the door of the cell—from which there came a whiff of air fouler even than that in the corridor—called out "Maslova! to the Court," and closed the door again.
Even into the prison yard the breeze had brought the fresh, vivifying air from the fields. But in the corridor the air was laden with the germs of typhoid, and the smell of sewage, putrefaction, and tar. Every new-comer felt sad and dejected in it. The woman warder felt this, though she was used to bad air. She had just come in from outside, and entering the corridor she at once felt weary and sleepy.
From inside the cell came the sound of bustle and women's voices and the patter of bare feet on the floor.
"Now then, hurry up!" called out the jailer, and in a minute or two a small young woman with a very full bust came briskly out of the door and went up to the jailer. She had on a grey cloak over a white jacket and petticoat. On her feet she wore linen stockings and prison shoes; and round her head was tied a white kerchief, from under which a few locks of black hair were brushed over the forehead with evident intent. The woman's face was of that whiteness peculiar to people who have lived long in confinement, and which puts one in mind of shoots that spring up from potatoes kept in a cellar. Her small broad hands, and the full neck which showed from under the broad collar of her cloak, were of the same hue. Her black sparkling eyes, one with a slight squint, appeared in striking contrast to the dull pallor of her face.
She carried herself very straight, expanding her full bosom.
With her head slightly thrown back, she stood in the corridor looking straight into the eyes of the jailer, ready to comply with any order.
The jailer was about to lock the door when a wrinkled, stern-looking old woman put out her grey head and began speaking to Maslova. But the jailer closed the door, pushing the old woman's head with it. A woman's laugh was heard from the cell, and Maslova smiled, turning towards the little opening in the cell door. The old woman pressed her face to the hole from the other side, and said in a hoarse voice:—
"Now mind, and when they begin questioning you, just go on repeating the same thing and stick to it; say nothing that is not wanted."
"Well, it could not be worse than it is now, anyhow: I only wish it were settled one way or another."
"Of course, it will be settled one way or another," said the chief jailer, with the self-assured wit of a superior. "Now then, get along!"
The old woman's eyes vanished from the opening, and Maslova stepped out into the middle of the corridor. The chief jailer in front, they descended the stone stairs; passed the still fouler, noisy cells of the men's ward, followed by eyes looking out of every one of the holes in the doors; and entered the office, where two soldiers were waiting to escort her. A clerk sitting there gave one of the soldiers a paper reeking of tobacco, and pointing to the prisoner, remarked, "Take her."
The soldier, a peasant from Nizhny Novgorod, with a red, pock-marked face, put the paper into the sleeve of his coat, winked, with a glance towards the prisoner, to his companion, a broad-shouldered Chuvash, and then the prisoner and the soldiers went to the front entrance, out of the prison yard, and through the town up the middle of the roughly paved street.
Cabmen, tradespeople, cooks, workmen, and Government clerks stopped and looked curiously at the prisoner. Some shook their heads and thought, "This is what evil conduct—conduct unlike ours—leads to." The children stopped and gazed at the robber with frightened looks; but the thought that the soldiers were preventing her from doing more harm quieted their fears. A peasant who had sold his charcoal and had had some tea in the town, came up, and, after crossing himself, gave her a kopeyk. The prisoner blushed and muttered something. Feeling the looks directed towards her, she gave, without turning her head, a sidelong glance to everybody who was gazing at her: the attention she attracted pleased her. The comparatively fresh air also gladdened her, but her feet had become unused to walking, and it was painful to step on the rough stones in the ill-made prison shoes. Passing by a corn-dealer's shop, in front of which a few pigeons were strutting about unmolested by any one, the prisoner almost touched a grey-blue bird with her foot; it fluttered up and flew close to her ear, fanning her with its wings. She smiled, and then sighed deeply as she remembered her position.
Chapter II THE STORY of the prisoner Maslova's life was a very common one.
Maslova's mother was the unmarried daughter of a village woman employed on a dairyfarm belonging to two maiden ladies who were landowners. This unmarried woman had a baby every year, and, as often happens among the village people, each one of these undesired babies, after being carefully baptized, was neglected by its mother, whom it hindered at her work, and was left to starve. Five children had died in this way. They had all been baptized and then not sufficiently fed, and just allowed to die. The sixth baby, whose father was a gipsy tramp, would have shared the same fate, had it not so happened that one of the maiden ladies came into the farmyard to scold the dairymaids for sending up cream that smelt of the cow. The young woman was lying in the cowshed with a fine, healthy, new-born baby. The old maiden lady scolded the maids again, for allowing the woman (who had just been confined) to lie in the cowshed, and was about to go away; but seeing the baby, her heart was touched, and she offered to stand godmother to the little girl. Pity for her little goddaughter induced her to give milk and a little money to the mother, so that she should feed the baby; and the child lived. The old ladies spoke of her as "the saved one." When the child was three years old her mother fell ill and died, and the maiden ladies took the child from the old grandmother, to whom she was only a burden.
The little black-eyed maiden grew to be extremely pretty, and so full of spirits that the ladies found her very entertaining.
The younger of the ladies, Sophia Ivanovna, who had stood godmother to the girl, had the kinder heart of the two sisters; Mary Ivanovna, the elder, was rather hard. Sophia Ivanovna dressed the little girl in nice clothes and taught her to read and write, meaning to educate her like a lady. Mary Ivanovna thought the child should be brought up to work, and trained to be a good servant. She was exacting; she punished, and, when in a bad temper, even struck the little girl. Growing up under these two different influences, the girl turned out half servant, half young lady. They called her Katusha, which sounds less refined than Katinka, but is not quite so common as Katka. She used to sew, tidy up the rooms, polish the metal cases of the icons with chalk, and do other light work, and sometimes she sat and read to the ladies.
Though she had more than one offer she would not marry. She felt that life as the wife of any of the working men who were courting her would be too hard for her, spoilt as she was by an easy life.
She lived in this way till she was sixteen, when the nephew of the old ladies, a rich young prince and a university student, came to stay with his aunts; and Katusha, not daring to acknowledge it even to herself, fell in love with him.
Two years later this same nephew stayed four days with his aunts before proceeding to join his regiment, and the night before he left he seduced Katusha, and, after giving her a one hundred ruble note, went away. Five months later she knew for certain that she was pregnant. After that, everything seemed repugnant to her, her only thought being how to escape from the shame awaiting her; and she not only began to serve the ladies in a halfhearted and negligent way, but once, without knowing how it happened, she was very rude to them, though she repented afterwards, and asked them to let her leave. They let her go, very dissatisfied with her. Then she got a housemaid's place in a police-officer's house, but stayed there only three months, for the police-officer, a man of fifty, began to molest her, and once, when he was in a specially enterprising mood, she fired up, called him "fool" and "old devil," and pushed him away so vigorously that he fell. She was turned out for her rudeness. It was useless to look for another situation, for the time of her confinement was drawing near, so she went to the house of a village midwife and illicit retailer of spirits. The confinement was easy; but the midwife, who had a case of fever in the village, infected Katusha, and her baby boy had to be sent to the foundlings' hospital, where, according to the old woman who took him there, he died at once. When Katusha went to the midwife she had a hundred and twenty-seven rubles in all, twenty-seven she had earned and the hundred given her by her seducer. When she left she had but six rubles; she did not know how to keep money, but spent it on herself and gave to all who asked. The midwife took forty rubles for two months' keep and attendance, twenty-five went to get the baby into the foundlings' hospital, and forty the midwife borrowed to buy a cow with. Some twenty rubles went just for clothes, sweets, and extras. Having nothing left to live on, Katusha had to look out for a place again, and found one in the house of a forester. The forester was a married man, but he, too, began to beset her from the first day. She disliked him and tried to avoid him. But he, besides being her master who could send her wherever he liked, was more experienced and cunning, and managed to violate her. His wife found it out, and catching Katusha and her husband in a room all by themselves began beating her. Katusha defended herself and they had a fight, and Katusha was turned out of the house without being paid her wages.
Then she went to live with her aunt in town. Her uncle, a bookbinder, had once been comfortably off, but he had lost all his customers and taken to drink, and spent all he could lay hands on at the public-house. The aunt kept a small laundry and managed to support herself, her children and her wretched husband. She offered Katusha a place as assistant laundress; but, seeing what a life of misery and hardship her aunt's assistants led, Katusha hesitated, and applied to a registry office. A place was found for her with a lady who lived with her two sons, pupils at a public day school. A week after Katusha had entered the house, the elder, a big fellow with moustaches, threw up his studies and gave her no peace, continually following her about. His mother laid all the blame on Katusha, and gave her notice.
It so happened that after many fruitless attempts to find a situation Katusha again went to the registry office, and there met a woman with bracelets on her bare, plump arms and rings on most of her fingers. Hearing that Katusha was badly in want of a place, the woman gave her her address and invited her to come to her house. Katusha went. The woman received her very kindly, set cake and sweet wine before her, then wrote a note and gave it to a servant to take to somebody. In the evening a tall man, with long grey hair and white beard, entered the room and sat down at once near Katusha, smiling and gazing at her with glistening eyes. He began joking with her. The hostess called him away into the next room, and Katusha heard her say, "A fresh one from the country." Then the hostess called Katusha away and told her that the man was an author, and that he had a great deal of money, and that if he liked her he would not grudge her anything. He did like her, and gave her twenty-five rubles, promising to see her often. The twenty-five rubles soon went; some she paid to her aunt for board and lodging, the rest was spent on a hat, ribbons, and suchlike. A few days later the author sent for her and she went. He gave her another twenty-five rubles and offered her a separate lodging.
Next door to the lodging rented for her by the author there lived a jolly young shopman, with whom Katusha soon fell in love. She told the author, and moved to a small lodging of her own. The shopman, who had promised to marry her, went off to Nizhny on business without mentioning it to her, having evidently thrown her up, and Katusha remained alone.
She meant to continue living in the lodging by herself, but was informed by the police that in that case she would have to get a yellow (prostitute's) passport and be subjected to medical examinations. She returned to her aunt. Seeing her fine dress, her hat, and mantle, her aunt no longer offered her laundry work. According to her ideas, her niece had risen above that. The question as to whether she was to become a laundress or not did not occur to Katusha either. She looked with pity at the thin, hard-worked laundresses, some already in consumption, who stood washing or ironing with their thin arms in the fearfully hot front room, which was always full of soapy steam and very draughty; and she thought with horror that she might have shared the same fate. It was just at this time, when Katusha was in very narrow straits, no "protector" appearing upon the scene, that a procuress found her out.
Katusha had begun to smoke some time before, and since the young shopman had thrown her up she was getting more and more into the habit of drinking. It was not so much the flavour of wine that attracted her, as the fact that it gave her a chance of forgetting the misery she suffered, making her feel unrestrained and more confident of her own worth, which she was not when quite sober: without wine she felt sad and ashamed.
The procuress brought all sorts of dainties, to which she treated the aunt, and also wine, and while Katusha drank she offered to place her in one of the largest establishments in the city, explaining all the advantages and benefits of the situation. Katusha had the choice before her of either going into service to be humiliated, probably annoyed by the attentions of the men and having occasional secret sexual connection; or accepting an easy, secure position sanctioned by law, and open, well-paid regular sexual connection— and she chose the latter. Besides, it seemed to her as though she could, in this way, revenge herself on her seducer, and the shopman, and all those who had injured her. One of the things that tempted her and influenced her decision, was the procuress telling her she might order her own dresses: velvet, silk, satin, low-necked ball-dresses—anything she liked. A mental picture of herself in bright yellow silk trimmed with black velvet, with low neck and short sleeves, conquered her, and she handed over her passport. That same evening the procuress took an izvozchik and drove her to the notorious house kept by Caroline Albetovna Kitaeva.
Excerpted from Resurrection by LEO TOLSTOY, T. N. R. ROGERS. Copyright © 2004 Dover Publications, Inc. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.