University of Florida
A MOSCOW ACQUAINT-
ANCE a THE SNOW-
STORM 2 DOMESTIC
LANIES 52 2 ,
By COUNT LEV N. TOLSTOY
Translated from the Original Russian and Edited by
Assistant Professor of Slavic Languages at Harvard University
BOSTON : D-\NA ESTES &
CO 0 MPA N PUBLISHERS
EDITION DE LUXE
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MEETING A MI'c,'l AC tCliUNTANCE AT THE FRONT 1
TilE N. T .35
AlIF.Mnlr or .\ M.\rKER .79
Tw, Ir' 103
A. iE F.T.. 189
FI.-l1 TFIE MIF l'I.*i5 Fr PrINCE D. NEKIILYTDOV .229
I'nr.EE rIEATrli .A 261
Pl'- t -TIC Ii NF 281
P.r'.L i 389
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
AT THE FRONT. THE ROAD THROUGH THE FOREST p. 3.
THE GAME OF SKITTLES
A CIRCASSIAN .
THE SNOW -STORMI
A DON COSSACK
S . 287
MEETING A MOSCOW AC-
QUAINTANCE AT THE
From Prince Nekhlyidov's Memoirs of the
MEETING A MOSCOW AC-
QUAINTANCE AT THE
From Prince Nekhly6dov's Memoirs of the
WE were stationed at the front. We were having our
last engagements ; the road through the forest was nearly
finished, and we awaited from day to day the order from
the staff to retreat to the fortress. Our division of
battery guns stood on the side of a mountain range which
ended in the swift torrent Mechik, and was to keep up a
fire on the plain stretching out before us. On this pic-
turesque plain, beyond the range of our guns, here and
there occasionally appeared, especially toward evening,
harmless groups of mountaineers on horseback, curious to
look at the Russian encampment.
It was a clear, quiet, and fresh evening, like nearly all
the December evenings in the Caucasus. The sun was
setting behind the steep spur of the mountains on the
left, and cast its rose-coloured beams on the tents which
were scattered on the mountain, on the moving groups of
the soldiers, and on our two guns which stood heavily and
immovably, as though stretching out their necks, within
two steps of us on an earth battery.
4 A MOSCOW ACQUAINTANCE AT THE FRONT
The picket of cavalry, stationed on a mound toward
the left, was clearly outlined against the transparent
light of the sunset, with its stacked arms, with the figure
of the sentry, the group of soldiers, and the smoke of the
camp-fire. On the right and left, half-way up the moun-
tain, on the black, well-trodden earth, gleamed the white
tents, and beyond the tents were the black, bare trunks of
the plane-forest, where constantly resounded the axes,
crackled the fires, and with a crash fell the trees that
were cut down. On all sides a bluish smoke rose in
columns toward the dark blue, frosty sky. Past the tents
and in the meadows along the brook were heard the
tramping and snorting of the horses which the Cossacks,
dragoons, and artillerists had taken to water. Crowds of
the enemy, no longer exciting the curiosity of the soldiers,
leisurely moved through the bright yellow maize-fields,
and here and there, back of the trees, could be seen the
high posts of the cemeteries and the smoking native
Our tent stood not far from the ordnance, on a high
and dry place, from which was had an unusually broad
view. Near the tent, and close to the battery, we had a
place cleaned up for the game of skittles. The obliging
soldiers had also made for us wicker benches and a small
table. On account of all these conveniences, our com-
rades, the artillery officers, and a few of the infantry, were
fond of gathering in the evening near our battery, calling
it the club.
It was a glorious evening. The best players were
present, and we played skittles. Ensign D- Lieu-
tenant 0- and I had lost two games in succession,
and, to the universal delight and laughter of the spec-
tators, officers, soldiers, and orderlies, who were look-
ing at us from their tents, twice carried on our backs
the winning party from one end to the other. Most
amusing was the position of immense and fat Staff-Cap-
A MOSCOW ACQUAINTANCE AT THE FRONT 5
tain Sh- who, puffing and smiling good-naturedly,
with his feet dragging on the ground, rode on the back of
short and sickly Lieutenant -- .
It grew late, and the orderlies brought us three glasses
of tea for the six men present, and we, having finished
the game, went up to the wicker benches. Near them
stood a strange man of low stature, with crooked legs,
wearing an uncovered fur coat and a lambskin cap with
long, white, straight fur.
The moment we came up close to him he several times
took off and put on again his cap, and seemed to make
several attempts at approaching us, and then stopped
again. Having apparently decided that he could not
remain unnoticed much longer, this stranger doffed his
cap and, making a circle around us, walked over to Staff-
Ah, Guskantini Well, my friend ?" Sh-- said to
him, still smiling good-naturedly under the influence
of the ride.
Guskantini, as Sh-- had called him, at once put on
his cap and acted as though he put his hands in the
pockets of his short fur coat; but on the side which was
nearest to me there was no pocket in his coat, and his
small red hand was left in an awkward position.
I wanted to determine who this man was, whether a
yunker or a reduced officer, and, without noticing that my
look, being that of a stranger to him, disconcerted him,
gazed fixedly at his dress and his exterior. He seemed
to be about thirty years old. His small, gray, round eyes
peeped sleepily and, at the same time, restlessly from
underneath the dirty white fur of his cap, which hung
down over his face. His thick, irregular nose, between
sunken cheeks, accentuated a sickly, unnatural leanness.
His lips, hardly covered by a soft, scanty, whitish mous-
tache, were in a constantly restless condition, as though
trying to assume now this, now that, expression. But all
6 A MOSCOW ACQUAINTANCE AT THE FRONT
these expressions were peculiarly unfinished: upon his
face there constantly remained one prevailing expression
of affright and haste. His lean, venous neck was
wrapped in a green woollen scarf, which was concealed
under his fur coat. His fur coat was worn, short, with a
dogskin collar and false pockets. His trousers were
checkered and of an ash-gray hue, and his boots had
short, unblacked soldier boot-legs.
"Please do not trouble yourself," I said to him, when,
looking timidly at me, he again doffed his cap.
He bowed to me with an expression of gratitude, put
on his cap, and, fetching from his pocket a dirty chintz
pouch with a cord, began to roll a cigarette for himself.
I had but lately been a yunker, an old yunker, in-
capable of still being good-naturedly obliging to my
younger comrades, and a yunker without means; there-
fore, knowing well the whole moral burden of this situa-
tion for a grown-up and egotistical man, I sympathized
with all the men who were in this situation, and tried to
explain to myself the character, degree, and direction
of their mental capacity, in order to judge from those
considerations the degree of their moral suffering. This
yunker, or reduced officer, by his restless look and by the
intentional and constant change of expression, which I
had noticed in him, appeared to me to be a very clever
and extremely egotistical, and, therefore, a very pitiable,
Staff-Captain Sh- proposed to us to play another
game of skittles, the penalty for the losing party to be, in
addition to the ride on the back, several bottles of red
wine, rum, sugar, cinnamon, and cloves for mulled wine,
which during this winter, on account of the frost, was very
popular in our detachment. Guskantini, as Sh- again
called him, was also invited to take part in the game;
but, before beginning to play, he, obviously struggling
between the pleasure which this invitation afforded him
A MOSCOW ACQUAINTANCE AT THE FRONT 7
and a certain terror, took Staff-Captain Sh-- aside and
began to say something to him in a whisper. The good-
natured staff-captain struck him in the abdomen with
the large, puffy palm of his hand and cried out in a loud
voice: Never mind, my friend, I will trust you."
The game was ended and won by the party to which
the low-ranked stranger belonged; when it was his turn
to ride on the back of one of our officers, Ensign D- ,
the ensign blushed, walked over to the benches, and offered
the low-ranked man cigarettes as a ransom. We ordered
the mulled wine; while in the orderlies' tent could be
heard the busy preparations of Nikita and his orders that
a messenger fetch cinnamon and clove, and while his
back stretched in places the dirty flaps of the tent, we
seven men seated ourselves near the benches and, alter-
nately drinking tea from the three glasses and looking
before us at the plain which was being merged in dark-
ness, conversed and laughed about the various circum-
stances of the game.
The stranger in the short fur coat did not take part
in the conversation, stubbornly refused the tea which
I offered him several times, and, squatting in Tartar
fashion on the ground, kept rolling cigarettes of crushed
tobacco and smoking them, obviously not so much for his
pleasure as in order to give himself the aspect of a man
having some occupation. When somebody mentioned
that we expected to retreat on the following day, and
that, very likely, there would be some engagements, he
raised himself on his knees and, turning directly to Staff-
Captain Sh- remarked that he had just come from
the adjutant's house, and that he himself had written out
the order for the start on the following day.
We were all silent while he spoke, and, in spite of his
apparent timidity, he was asked to repeat this extremely
interesting piece of news. He repeated what he had
said, adding, however, that he had been sitting at the
8 A MOSCOW ACQUAINTANCE AT THE FRONT
adjutant's, with whom he lived, when the order was
You are sure you are not fibbing, my friend! If
not, I must go to my company and give a few orders for
to-morrow," said Staff-Captain Sh-.
"No why should I? How could I I certainly -"
muttered the low-ranked stranger, suddenly growing
silent. He evidently decided to feel offended, wrinkled
his brow in an unnatural manner, and, mumbling some-
thing, again began to roll cigarettes. The crushed
tobacco which he poured out of the chintz pouch did
not suffice, and so he asked Sh- to loan him a little
We for a long time continued the same monotonous
military prattle, which everybody who has been on
expeditions knows; we used the same expressions in
complaining about the dulness and duration of the
expedition; in precisely the same manner reflected on
the authorities; in just the same way, as often before,
praised one companion and pitied another; wondered
how much this one had won or that one lost, and so on.
"Well, my friends, our adjutant is having an awful
streak of luck," said Staff-Captain Sh- "He has been
winning all the time at the staff. No matter with whom
he used to sit down, he always cleaned them out, but he
has been losing these two months. Our present detach-
ment is not doing him any good. I think he must have
let slip some two thousand roubles, and he is minus five
hundred roubles' worth of things: the rug which he had
won of Miikhin, the Nikitin pistols, and SAda's gold watch
which Voronts6v had made him a present of."
Serves him right," said Lieutenant 0- "for he
has been doing us so badly that it became impossible to
play with him."
"He has been doing everybody, but now he has gone
up the flue himself," said the staff-captain, with a good-
A MOSCOW ACQUAINTANCE AT THE FRONT 9
nilured laugh. Gdskov lives with him, and the adju-
t.nt has almost gambled him away, too. Is it not so,
Oi tskov?" He turned to Gdskov.
Gdskov laughed. It was a pitiable, sickly smile,
which entirely changed the expression of his face. This
change of expression made me think that I had met the
man before; besides, his name, Giskov, seemed familiar
to me; but I was absolutely unable to recall when and
where I had met him.
Yes," said Gdskov, raising his hands to his moustache
and dropping them again, without having touched it,
" Pvel Dmitrievich has had no luck during this expe-
dition,- a kind of a veine de malheur," he added, with
a laboured but pure French pronunciation, whereat I
again thought that I had met him somewhere, and had
met him often. "I know Pavel Dmitrievich well, and
he confides everything to me," he continued. "We
are old acquaintances, that is, he likes me," he added,
apparently becoming frightened at his too bold assertion
that he was an old acquaintance of the adjutant's.
" Pavel Dmitrievich plays excellently; but what has hap-
pened to him is truly remarkable; he is almost ruined, -
la chance a tournd," he added, turning more particularly
At first we were listening to Gdskov with condescend-
ing attention, but the moment he used that French phrase
we all involuntarily turned away from him.
I have played with him a hundred times, and you
will admit that it is strange," said Lieutenant 0- with
a peculiar accent upon this word, "remarkably strange,
I have never won as much as a dime from him. Why
is it I can win from others ?"
Pavel Dmitrievich plays excellently, I have known
him for a long time," I said. I had really known the
adjutant for several years, had seen him frequently play-
ing what, according to the means of the officers, might be
10 A MOSCOW ACQUAINTANCE AT THE FRONT
called a big game, and had admired his handsome, slightly
melancholy, and always imperturbed and calm counte-
nance, his hesitating Little-Russian pronunciation, his beau-
tiful things and horses, his leisurely Little-Russian dash,
and, especially, his ability to lead a game in a reserved,
precise, and agreeable manner. I must confess that more
than once, as I looked at his full white hands, with a dia-
mond ring on one forefinger, beating my cards one after
another, I was furious at this ring, at the white hands, at
the whole person of the adjutant, and evil thoughts in
regard to him came to me ; but, upon reflecting later more
calmly, I convinced myself that he was simply more clever
at cards than any of those men with whom he happened
to play. This became the more apparent when I listened
to his general reflections on the game, how one must not
back out, having raised the small stakes, how one must
pass under certain conditions, how it was the first rule to
play for cash, and so forth: in short, it was clear that he
was always winning because he was more intelligent and
calm than any of us. Now it turned out that this calm
and collected gambler had been cleaned out at the front,
not only of his money, but even of his things, which for
an officer means the last stage of losing.
He always has devilish luck with me," continued
Lieutenant 0- "I have sworn I would never play
with him again."
"What a queer chap you are, my friend !" said Sh-
winking at me with a motion of his whole head and
addressing 0--. "You must have lost about three
hundred roubles to him, I know you have!"
More," angrily said the lieutenant.
"And it is only now that you see through it! Rather
late, my friend. Everybody knows that he is our regi-
mental cheat," said Sh- with difficulty repressing his
laugh and well satisfied with his remark. We have here
Gdiskov with us: it is he who fixes the cards for him.
A MOSCOW ACQUAINTANCE AT THE FRONT 11
That's why they are such great friends, my dear and
the staff-captain burst out into such a good-natured laugh,
shaking with his whole body, that he spilled a glass of
mulled wine, which he was holding in his hand. On
Gdskov's yellow, lean face there appeared something re-
sembling colour; he opened his mouth several times,
raised his hands to his moustache, and again dropped
them down to the place where the pockets ought to have
been, got up, and sat down again, and finally said to
Sh- in a changed voice:
This is not a joke, Nikolay Ivanovich. You say such
things, and that, too, in presence of people who do not
know me, and who see me in an uncovered fur coat -
because-" His voice gave way, and again his small,
red hands with dirty nails wandered from his coat to his
face, now smoothing his moustache, his hair, his nose, now
rubbing his eyes, or scratching his cheek without cause.
"What is the use ? Everybody knows it, my friend,"
continued Sh--, sincerely satisfied with his jest and
not noticing Giskov's agitation at all. Gdskov muttered
something else, and, leaning in a most unnatural manner
the elbow of his right arm on the knee of his left leg, he
looked at Sh- and tried to appear as though smiling
"Really," I concluded, as I noticed that smile, "I have
not only seen him somewhere, but I have also spoken
We have met somewhere," I said to him, when, under
Sthe influence of a general silence, Sh- 's laughter began
to subside. Guskov's changeable countenance suddenly
brightened, and his eyes for the first time fell upon me
with a genuinely happy expression.
Certainly. I recognized you at once," he said in
French. "In 1848, I had several times the pleasure of
seeing you at the house of my sister, Madame IvAshin."
I excused myself for not having recognized him at once
12 A MOSCOW ACQUAINTANCE AT THE FRONT
in this new and strange costume. He got up, walked over
to me, with his moist hand timidly and feebly pressed
mine, and sat down by my side. Instead of looking at
me, whom he seemed to be glad to see, he cast a glance of
disagreeable boasting at the officers. Either because I had
recognized in him a man whom several years before I
had seen in evening dress in a drawing-room, or because
at this recognition he had suddenly risen in his own opin-
ion, his face and even movements seemed to me to have
completely changed: they now expressed a wide-awake
mind, a childish self-satisfaction from the consciousness of
possessing such a mind, and a certain contemptuous care-
lessness. I must confess that, in spite of the pitiable con-
dition he was in, my old acquaintance no longer inspired
me with compassion for him, but with a somewhat hostile
I vividly recalled our first meeting. In the year '48, I,
during my stay at Moscow, used to call frequently at the
house of Ivishin, with whom I had grown up and re-
mained in friendly relations. His wife was a pleasant
hostess, what is called a charming woman, but I had no
liking for her During the winter when I knew her
she frequently spoke, with ill-disguised pride, of her
brother, who had lately graduated from the university,
and who, in her opinion, was one of the most cultivated
and popular young men in the best St. Petersburg society.
Knowing by reputation the father of the Guiskovs, who
was very rich and occupied a prominent position, and
being acquainted with his sister's mental attitude, I met
young Gdskov with an unfavourable bias. Having once
arrived at IvAshin's house, I there found a small, very
pleasant young man, in an evening dress, with white
waistcoat and tie, with whom the host forgot to make me
acquainted. The young man, obviously on the point of
going to a ball, was standing with his hat in his hand
before Iv6shin, and warmly but politely arguing with him
A MOSCOW ACQUAINTANCE AT THE FRONT 13
about a common acquaintance of ours, who at that time
had distinguished himself in the Hungarian campaign.
I remembered his saying that that acquaintance of ours
was not at all a hero and a man born for war, as he was
called, but only a cultured and clever man. I remem-
bered having taken part in the discussion against Gdskov,
and of having been carried away to extremes, proving even
that intelligence and culture were always in inverse rela-
tion to bravery; I remembered Gdskov having proved to
me in a pleasant and clever manner that bravery was the
necessary result of cleverness and of a certain degree of
development, with which I, considering myself a clever
and cultivated gentleman, could not help agreeing se-
cretly. I remembered that at the end of our dispute
Madame Ivashin introduced her brother to me, and he,
smiling condescendingly, gave me his small hand, upon
which he had not yet entirely drawn his kid glove, and
softly and timidly, even as now, pressed my hand.
Although I was biassed against him, I could not help
doing Guiskov justice, and agreeing with his sister that he
really was a clever and agreeable young man, who ought
to have success in society. He was extremely neat and
elegantly dressed; his manner was self-confident, and yet
modest; he looked exceedingly youthful, almost childish,
so that one felt like forgiving him his expression of self-
satisfaction and his desire to temper before you the degree
of his superiority, with which his intelligent face, and
especially his smile, seemed always to impress you.
There was a rumour that during that winter he had
great success with the Moscow ladies. Seeing him at his
sister's, I could judge only by the expression of happiness
and contentment, which his youthful exterior bore all the
time, and by his, at times, immodest stories, to what
extent this was true. We met about six times and spoke
a great deal together, or, to be more exact, he spoke and
I listened. He generally expressed himself in French,
14 A MOSCOW ACQUAINTANCE AT THE FRONT
which he spoke correctly and ornately, and he knew how
to interrupt others in a soft and polite manner. He
usually treated others, and me too, with condescension,
and I, as is always the case with me in regard to people
who are firmly convinced that I must be treated with
condescension and whom I do not know well,-I felt
that he was quite right in this respect.
Now, as he seated himself near me and gave me his
hand, I vividly recalled his former haughty expression,
and it seemed to me that he did not quite fairly take
advantage of his low-rank position when he carelessly
asked me what I had been doing heretofore and how I
got here. Notwithstanding the fact that I always an-
swered him in Russian, he kept speaking French, although
he no longer expressed himself as freely in this language
as formerly. In passing, he told me of himself, that after
his unfortunate, stupid affair (what this affair consisted in
I did not know, and he did not tell me), he had passed
three months in confinement, after which he was sent to
the Caucasus to the N- regiment, where he had now
been a common soldier for three years.
You will not believe me," he said to me in French,
"how much I had to suffer in these regiments from the
society of the officers! It was a piece of good luck for
me to have been acquainted before with the adjutant, of
whom we have just been speaking: he is a good man,
really he is," he remarked, condescendingly. I am living
with him, and that is some little relief to me. Oui, mon
cher, les jours se suivent, mais ne se ressemblent pas," he
added. He suddenly hesitated, blushed, and arose from
his place, when he noticed that the very adjutant of whom
we had been speaking was coming in our direction.
"What a joy to meet such a man as you are !" Gdskov
said to me in a whisper, going away. "I should like to
have a long, long talk with you."
I told him that I should be glad to see him, but, in
A MOSCOW ACQUAINTANCE AT THE FRONT 15
reality, I must confess, Gdskov inspired me with an
oppressive, by no means sympathetic, compassion for
I foresaw that without witnesses I should feel awk-
ward with him. But I was anxious to find out many
things, especially why, since his father was so rich, he
was poor, as could be seen from his attire and his manner.
The adjutant exchanged greetings with all of us, excep-
ting Guskov, and sat down at my side, where the reduced
soldier had been sitting. Pivel Dmitrievich, who, as a
gamester and as a man of business, had always been char-
acterized by calmness and cautiousness, now seemed to be
an entirely different man from what I knew him to
be during the flourishing days of his playing: he seemed
to be in haste to get away somewhere, continually eyed
everybody, and, before five minutes had passed, he, who
otherwise generally declined to play, now proposed to
Lieutenant 0-- to start a game at cards. Lieutenant
0- declined under the pretext of military duties, but
in reality because he knew how few things and how little
money Pivel Dmitrievich had left, and because he con-
sidered it ill advised to risk his three hundred roubles
against one hundred, or even less, which he could at best
"Well, Pavel Dmftrievich," said the lieutenant, appar-
ently wishing to avoid a repetition of the invitation, is it
true what they say, that we are to march back to-mor-
"I do not know," remarked Pavel Dmitrievich, "but
there is an order to get ready. Really, we had better play
a game! I will stake my Kabardd charger."
"No, not to-day -"
"I'll let the gray one go, or, if you prefer, we may play
for money. Well?"
"I should not mind, really," said Lieutenant 0- ,
replying to his own doubt; but there may be an incur-
16 A MOSCOW ACQUAINTANCE AT THE FRONT
sion or movement to-morrow, and I must have my sleep
The adjutant arose and, putting his hands in his
pockets, began to walk up and down the open space.
His countenance assumed its habitual expression of cold-
ness and of a certain pride, which I liked so much in
Don't you want a glass of mulled wine?" I said to
"I'll take one," he said, moving up toward me; but
Giskov hurriedly took the glass out of my hand and car-
ried it up to the adjutant, trying not to look at him.
But, not seeing the rope which stretched the tent, Gdskov
was tripped up by it, so that he fell down on his hands,
dropping the glass.
How awkward !" said the adjutant, who had already
stretched out his hand to receive the glass. Everybody
laughed loud, not excepting Giskov, who was rubbing his
lean knee with his hand, although he could not possibly
have hurt it in the fall.
That is the way the bear has served the hermit," con-
tinued the adjutant. "That is the way he has been
serving me every day: he has pulled all the stakes out
of the tents, he is getting tripped up all the time."
Giskov, without listening to him, excused himself to
us and glanced at me with a barely perceptible sad smile,
by which he seemed to say that I was the only one who
could understand him. He was pitiable, but the adjutant,
his patron, appeared for some reason to be angry with his
cohabitant and did not give him any rest.
"What an agile lad "
"Who could help being tripped up by these stakes,
PAvel Dmitrievich ?" said Giskov. "You, yourself,
stumbled the other day."
I, sir, am not a low-rank man. No agility is expected
A MOSCOW ACQUAINTANCE AT THE FRONT 17
"He may drag his legs along," interposed Staff-Captain
Sh--, but a low-rank man must jump "
Strange jests," said Guskov, almost in a whisper and
lowering his eyes. The adjutant was evidently not in-
different to his tent-mate, for he eagerly listened to every
word of his.
We shall have to send him again to the ambush," he
said, turning to Sh- and winking as he looked in the
direction of the reduced soldier.
"There will be tears again," said Sh- laughing.
Gdskov was no longer looking at me, but pretended to
be taking tobacco out of the pouch in which there had
not been anything for quite awhile.
Get ready to go to the ambush, my friend," Sh-
said, amidst laughter. "The spies have reported that
there will be an attack upon the camp at night, so we
shall have to appoint reliable lads."
Gdskov smiled with indecision, as though getting ready
to say something, and several times raised an imploring
glance to Sh-
"Well, I have been there before, and will go again, if
I am sent," he lisped.
You will be."
"And I will go. What of it?"
"If you don't run away from the ambush, as upon
Argun, and throw away your gun," said the adjutant.
Turning away from him, he began to tell us what the
orders for the next day were.
For the night an attack was actually expected from the
enemy, and on the morrow there was to be some move-
ment. Having chatted about various general subjects,
the adjutant, as though by accident, proposed to Lieuten-
ant 0- to have a small deal. Lieutenant -- quite
unexpectedly consented, and they went, together with
Sh- and the ensign, to the tent of the adjutant, who
there had a green folding table and cards. The captain,
18 A MOSCOW ACQUAINTANCE AT THE FRONT
the commander of our division, went to his tent to
sleep, the other gentlemen also departed, and I was left
alone with Gdskov. I was not mistaken: I really felt ill
at ease when there was no one present with us. I involun-
tarily got up and began to walk up and down along the
battery. Gliskov walked silently at my side, turning
hastily and restlessly around, so as not to fall behind or
get ahead of me.
I do not bother you?" he asked, in a meek and
melancholy voice. So far as I could make out his face
in the dark, it seemed to me to be lost in thought and
"Not in the least," I answered; but as he did not
begin to talk, and I did not know what to tell him, we
continued walking in silence for quite awhile.
The twilight had entirely given way to the darkness
of the night; the bright evening star stood out above the
black profile of the mountains; small stars glittered above
our heads, on the light blue frosty sky ; on all sides could
be seen the red flames of the smoking camp-fires in the
dark; nearer to us could be made out the gray contours
of the tents and the murky rampart of our battery.
Lighted up by the nearest fire, at which our orderlies
were warming themselves, conversing in soft voices, the
brass of our heavy ordnance gleamed on the battery, and
the figure of the sentry, with his coat thrown over his
shoulders, appeared moving evenly up and down the
You can't imagine what a joy it is for me to speak
with such a man as you are," Giiskov remarked, although
he had not yet said a thing to me. Only he who has
been in my situation can understand that."
I did not know what reply to make to him, and we
again were silent, although he apparently was anxious to
unburden his heart, and I wished to hear him talk.
Why were you why did you suffer ?" I asked him
A MOSCOW ACQUAINTANCE AT THE FRONT 19
at last, not being able to discover anything better with
which to start the conversation.
Have you not heard of that unfortunate affair with
Yes, a duel, I think. I barely heard of it," I answered.
"You know I have been so long in the Caucasus."
"No, not the duel, but that stupid affair! I will tell
you the whole thing, if you do not know it. It happened
the same year that we met at my sister's, when I was
living at St. Petersburg. I must tell you that I then
had what is called une position dans le monde, and it was
an advantageous, if not a brilliant, one. Mon pere me
donnait 10,000 par an. In the year '49 I was promised
a place with the embassy at Turin, for my uncle on my
mother's side was always-able and ready to do all he could
for me. It is now a thing of the past. Jitais repu dans
la meilleure socidtd de Petersbourg; je pouvais pretendre
to one of the best matches. I had studied as we all study
at school, so that I had no special education; it is true, I
read a great deal later, mais j'avais surtout, you know,
ce jargon du monde, and, however it may be, I was for
some reason counted among one of the first young men
of St. Petersburg. What raised me more than anything
in the opinion of society, c'est cette liaison avec .ladame
D- which was the cause of much talk in St. Petersburg,
but I was dreadfully young at the time and did not value
all these advantages. I was simply young and foolish.
What more did I need? During that time this Met4nin
had a reputation in St. Petersburg -" Guskov con-
tinued in this strain to tell me the history of his mis-
fortune, which, being entirely uninteresting, I shall omit
"Two months I was locked up," he continued, "in
solitary confinement, and I thought a great deal during
that time. But, do you know, when everything was ended,
as though the connection with the past were definitely
20 A MOSCOW ACQUAINTANCE AT THE FRONT
broken, I began to feel easier. Mon pere vous en avez
entcndu parler no doubt, he is a man with an iron char-
acter and firm convictions, il m'a dEsheritd and has severed
all relations with me. According to his convictions, that
was what he had to do, and I do not blame him in the
least: il a ete consequent. But, again, I did not take a
step which would lead him to change his determination.
My sister was abroad. Madame D-- was the only one to
write to me, when I was permitted to receive letters, and
she offered me her services, but I declined them, so that
I was left without those trifles which, you know, make
things easier for one in such a situation: I had no books,
no linen, no food, nothing! I thought over so much
during that time, and came to look at everything with
different eyes: thus, that noise and those talks about me
in St. Petersburg did not interest me, nor flatter me in
the least, it all seemed so ridiculous to me. I felt that
I myself was to blame, that I had been careless and
young; that I had spoiled my career, and I thought only
of how to mend it again. I felt that I had the strength
and energy to do that. As I told you, from my confine-
ment I was sent directly to the Caucasus, to the N-
"I thought," he continued, becoming ever more ani-
mated, "that here, in the Caucasus, la vie de camp, the
simple and honest people with whom I should be in
touch, war, perils, that all that would be exactly in keep-
ing with my mood, and that I should begin a new life. On
me verra au feu, they will take a liking to me, and
will respect me not merely for my name, -a cross,
under-officer, penalty removed, and I shall again return
et, vous savez, avec ce prestige du matheur Ho, quel
d6senchantement You can't imagine how disappointed
I am 1 Do you know the society of officers of our regi-
ment ?" He was silent for quite awhile, waiting for me,
as I thought, to say that I knew how bad that society
A MOSCOW ACQUAINTANCE AT THE FRONT 21
was, but I gave him no reply. It annoyed me to think
that, no doubt, because I knew French, he supposed that
I ought to be up in arms against the society of the officers,
whereas I, having passed a long time in the Caucasus, had
come to recognize its worth, and to esteem it a thousand
times more than the society from which Guskov came.
I wanted to tell him so, but his position held me back.
In the N- regiment the society of officers is a thou-
sand times worse than here," he continued. J'esplre que
c'est beaucoup dire, that is, you can't imagine what it is!
Let alone the yunkers and soldiers, it is simply dreadful!
It is true, at first I was well received; but later, when
they saw that I could not help despising them, you know,
in those imperceptible, petty relations, when they saw that
I was an entirely different man, who stood incomparably
higher than they, they became enraged at me, and began
to repay me with petty humiliations. Ce que j'ai eu n
soufrir, vous ne vous faites pas une idle. Then those in-
voluntary relations with the yunkers, and chiefly, avec les
petits moyens que favais, je manquais de tout, -I had
only what my sister sent me. The proof of what I have
suffered is that I, with my character, avec ma fierte, j'ai
ecris & mon pdre, I implored him to send me anything he
felt like sending.
I can easily see how living five years of such a life
one may become like our reduced soldier Dr6mov, who
drinks with the soldiers and keeps writing notes to all
the officers, asking a loan of three roubles, and signing
himself tout a vous Dr6mov. It was necessary to have
my character in order not to sink in this terrible
He for a long time walked in silence at my side.
Avez-vous un papiros ?" he said to me. Yes, where
did I stop? Yes. I could not stand it,--I do not mean
physically, because, though I suffered cold and hunger,
I lived like a soldier, and the officers showed a certain
'22 A MoscoW ACQUAINTANCE AT THE FRONT
respect for me. I still had a certain prestige in their eyes.
They did not send me to do sentry duty, or to the exer-
cises. I should not have endured it. But morally I
suffered terribly. The worst was I could not see any
issue from this situation. I wrote to my uncle, begging
him to get me transferred to this regiment, which, at least,
goes into actions; besides, I thought I should here find
Pavel Dmitrievich, qui est le fils de l'intendant de mon
pe're, -and he might be useful to me. My uncle did
it for me, and I was transferred. After that other regi-
ment, this one appeared to me like a gathering of gentle-
men of the bedchamber. Then Pavel Dmitrievich was
here, and so they knew who I was and received me well.
' At the request of his uncle Guskov, vous save -' but
I noticed that with these people, who have no education
nor mental development, they cannot respect a man and
show him signs of respect if he lacks the aureole of
wealth and distinction; I noticed that by degrees, when
they saw that I was poor, their relations to me became
ever more careless, until, at last, they grew to be almost
contemptuous. It is terrible! But it is the whole truth.
I have here been in actions, have fought, on mn'a vu
au feu," he continued, "but when will it all end? I
think never! My strength and energy are beginning to
be exhausted. Then, I imagined la guerre, la vie de
camp, but I see that it is entirely different: in short fur
coats, unwashed, in soldier boots, you go to some
ambush and lie a whole night in a ravine with some
Ant6nov who has been put in the army for drunkenness,
and almost any minute either you or Ant6nov, it matters
not who, may be shot from behind a bush. There is no
question of bravery here, it is terrible. C"est affreux,
"Well, you may now be promoted to be under-officer
for the expedition, and next year you may be ensign,"
A MOSCOW ACQUAINTANCE AT THE FRONT 23
"Yes, I may, so I have been promised; but there are
two years left yet, and then, I doubt it. If only one knew
what it means to be here two years longer. Just imagine
this life with Pavel Dmitrievich: cards, coarse jests,
carousals; you wish to say something which has been fer-
menting in your soul, and you are not understood, or they
even laugh at you; you are spoken to, not in order to have
an idea imparted to you, but, if possible, to be made a
fool of. Everything is so base, coarse, and loathsome, and
you are always made to feel that you are of low rank. It
is for this reason that you will not be able to appreciate
what a delight it is for me to talk A cewur ouvert with
such a man as you are."
I did not quite understand what kind of a man he sup-
posed me to be, and so I did not know what to answer.
"Will you have a lunch ?" I was just then addressed
by Nikita, who had invisibly come up to me in the dark,
and who, apparently, was dissatisfied with the presence of
a stranger. All there is left is cheese dumplings and a
little chopped meat."
"Has the captain had his lunch?"
He has been asleep for quite awhile," Nikita answered,
gruffly. To my order to bring us the lunch and some
brandy, he involuntarily muttered something and started
back for his tent. He grumbled there for awhile, but
finally brought us the lunch-basket; he placed a candle
on top of the basket, having first wrapped a paper around
it to protect it from the wind, then a small saucepan, mus-
tard in a small bottle, a tin wine-cup with a handle, and
a bottle with absinthe. Having fixed all this, Nikita stood
for a few moments near us, watching Glskov and me
drinking brandy, which obviously was very disagreeable
to him. In the dim light of the candle, shining through
the paper and the surrounding darkness, could be seen
only the sea-calf skin of the lunch-basket, the supper
which stood upon it, and the face and fur coat of Gdskov,
24 A MOSCOW ACQUAINTANCE AT THE FRONT
and his small red hands, with which he was busy getting
the dumplings out of the saucepan. All around us it was
black, and only by looking closely was it possible to dis-
cern the black battery, the black figure of the sentry
appearing through the breastwork, and on both sides of
us the flames of the camp-fires, and above us the reddish
Gdskov barely smiled sadly and shamefacedly, as
though it made him feel uneasy to look me in the eyes
after his confession. He drank another glass of brandy,
and ate with zest, scraping out the pan.
Still your acquaintance with the adjutant," I said, in
order to say something, must be a relief to you. I have
heard that he is a very good man."
Yes," replied Guskov, he is a good man, but he can-
not be what he is not, -he cannot be a man, and with
his education it cannot be expected he should." He sud-
denly seemed to be blushing. "Have you noticed this
evening his coarse jokes about the ambush," and Giiskov,
in spite of my repeated attempt to change the subject,
began to justify himself to me, and to prove that he did
not run away from the ambush, and that he was not a
coward, such as the adjutant and Sh- wanted to make
As I told you," he continued, wiping his hands on
the fur coat, "such people cannot be considerate with a
common soldier who has little money; that is above their
strength. For the last five months, I have for some
reason not been receiving anything from my sister, and
I have noticed that they have changed to me since then.
This short fur coat, which I bought from a soldier, and
which does not keep me warm because the fur is all worn
off" (he pointed to the worn-off skirt of his fur coat),
"does not impress him with respect or compassion for
misfortune, but with contempt, which he is unable to
conceal. No matter how great my need is, as for example
A MOSCOW ACQUAINTANCE AT THE FRONT 25
now, when I have nothing to eat but the soldiers' mess,
and nothing to wear," he continued, abashed, filling another
glass of brandy for himself, "it does not occur to him to
offer me a loan of money, when he is sure to get it back
from me, but waits for me to ask him for it. And you
can easily see how such relations with him must be irk-
some. Now, to you I would say it straight off, vous Utes
au dessus de cela, mon cher, je n'ai pas le sou. And do
you know," he said, suddenly casting a desperate glance
at me, "I will tell you frankly I am now in a terrible
condition: pouvez-vous me preter dix roubles argent? My
sister ought to send me some by the next post, et mon
Ah, with the greatest pleasure," I said, when, in reality,
I was pained and annoyed, especially since, having the
day before lost at cards, I had only something like five
roubles, which Nikita held for me. "Directly," I said,
getting up, "I will go to the tent for it."
No, later, ne vous derangez pas."
However, I paid no attention to his words, and crawled
into the fastened tent, where my bed was standing and
the captain was sleeping.
"Aleksydy Ivanych, let me have ten roubles, if you
please, until pay-day," I said to the captain, shaking him.
SWhat, again cleaned out? And it was only yester-
day that you said you would not play again," the captain
muttered through his sleep. I
No, I have not been playing; but I need it, and so
let me have it!"
"Makatydk!" the captain called out to his orderly.
"Bring me here the small safe with the money!"
Softly, softly," I said, hearing Guskov's measured steps
outside the tent.
"What? Why softly?"
The reduced man asked a loan of me. He is here."
"If I had known that, I would not have given it to
26 A MOSCOW ACQUAINTANCE AT THE FRONT
you," remarked the captain. I have heard about him, -
he is a perfectly worthless chap!" Still the captain
handed me the money, gave his order to put the safe
away securely and to close up the tent, and, again repeat-
ing, "If I had known what it was for, I would not have
given it to you," wrapped his head with the coverlet.
" You owe me now thirty-two, remember that," he called
out to me.
When I came out of the tent, Glskov was walking near
the benches, and his small figure, with the crooked legs
and monstrous cap with the long white nap, now appeared
and now again disappeared in the dark, as he passed by
the candle. He acted as though he did not notice me.
I handed him the money. He said Merci," and crum-
pling the money, put the bill into his trousers pocket.
Now, I suppose, the game is at full blast with Pavel
Dmitrievich," he began soon after.
"Yes, I think so."
"He plays very strangely: always & rebours, and he
never turns back; as long as luck is with him, it is all
right, but the moment it does not work, he is liable to
lose terribly. He has proven this to be a fact. During
this expedition he has lost, if we count in the things, not
less than fifteen hundred roubles. He used to play so
cautiously before! And that officer of yours even doubted
"He was just talking Nikita, haven't we any red
wine, left,?" I said, very much relieved by Gliskov's
Nikita again grumbled, but brought us some red wine,
and again -in anger watched Guiskov emptying his glass.
In' Gdskov's address his former ease of manner came back.
I wanted him to go away as soon as possible, and I
thought the reason he did not leave was that he felt
ashamed to leave soon after having received the money
from me. I was silent.
A MOSCOW ACQUAINTANCE AT THE FRONT 27
"How could you, a man of means, without being com-
pelled to do so, have made up your mind de gaiete de coeur
to go and serve in the Caucasus? This is something I
can't understand," he said to me.
I tried to justify my action, which appeared so strange
"I surmise that this society of officers, men without
any idea of culture, must be very annoying to you, too.
You cannot understand each other. You may live ten
years here without hearing or seeing anything but cards,
wine, and talks about rewards and expeditions."
I was unpleasantly affected by his desire that I should
share his conviction, and I quite sincerely assured him
that I was very fond of cards, and wine, and talks about
expeditions, and that I did not wish to have any finer
companions than those whom I now had. But he would
not believe me.
"You are just saying so," he continued, "but the ab-
sence of women, that is, I mean, femmes comme il faut -
is that not a terrible deprivation ? I do not know what
I should be willing to give now if I could but for one
minute be transferred to a drawing-room or at least
through a chink look at a charming woman."
He was silent for a moment and gulped down another
glass of red wine.
"Ah, my God, my God! maybe we shall some day
meet again in St. Petersburg, and be and live with people,
with women." He drank the last wine that was left in
the bottle, after which he said: Ah, pardon, you wanted,
perhaps, some of it,--I am so absent-minded. I am
afraid I have drunk too much, et je n'ai pas la tete forte.
There was a time, when I lived on the MorskAya Street,
au rez-de-chaussie, and I had charming quarters and had
charming furniture: you know, I knew how to fix it all
artistically, though not expensively; mon pere, it is true,
gave me porcelains, flowers, and fine silver articles. LZ
28 A MOSCOW ACQUAINTANCE AT THE FRONT
martin je sortais, visits, & cing heures regulijrement I drove
to dinner at her house, and she was often alone. II faut
avouer que e'jtait une femme ravissante Did you not
know her? Not at all?"
"You know, femininity was developed in her in the
highest degree, and tenderness, and then, what love 1 0
Lord! I did not then fully appreciate all that happiness.
Or, after theatre, we returned together and had a supper.
It was never dull with her, toujours gaie, toujours ai-
mantc. No, I did not then understand what a rare
happiness it was. Et jai beaucoup & me reprocher before
her. Je I'ai fait souffrir, et souvent I was cruel. Ah,
what a wonderful time that was Are you annoyed?"
"Not in the least."
"Then I will tell you about our evenings. So I would
walk in, that staircase, every flower-pot I knew, the
door-knob, all that was so charming and familiar; then
the antechamber, her room No, this will never, never
return She writes me even now, I will show you her
letters if you wish. But I am no longer what I was, I
am lost and unworthy of her. Yes, I am completely lost !
Je suis cassie. There is in me neither energy, nor pride, -
nothing. There is even no nobility. Yes, I am lost!
And nobody will ever comprehend my suffering. It
makes no difference to anybody. I am a lost man! I
shall never rise again, because I am morally fallen-
into the mire fallen -" Just then there was heard
in his words genuine, deep despair; he sat motionless and
did not look at me.
"But why despair so ?" I said to him.
Because I am base: this life has destroyed me; every-
thing which was in me has been killed. I am suffering
now, not with pride, but with baseness, there is no
longer dignity dans le malhcur. I am humiliated at every
turn, and I endure everything and myself invite humilia-
A MOSCOW ACQUAINTANCE AT THE FRONT 29
tion. This mire has dcteint sur moi: I have myself
become coarse; I have forgotten what I knew, and can
no longer speak French correctly; I feel that I am base
and low. Under these circumstances I am unable, abso-
lutely unable, to fight, or else I might have been a hero:
give me a regiment, golden epaulettes, trumpeters,--but
to march at the side of some savage Ant6n Bondarenko,
and so forth, and to think that there is no difference
between him and me, that it is a matter of indifference
whether he or I be killed,--this thought is killing me.
You understand how terrible it is to think that some
beggar will kill me, a man who thinks and feels, and that
it would not matter much if Ant6nov, a being that in no
way differs from an animal, should be killed at my side,
and that it is just as likely that I shall be killed, and
not Antdnov, as is always the case, une fatality for every-
thing high and good. I know that they call me a coward,
--I am really a coward, and cannot be otherwise. Not
only am I a coward, but, to their way of thinking, I am a
beggar and a contemptible man. Now, I have just begged
you for some money, and you have a right to despise me.
No, take back your money," and he handed me the crum-
pled bill. "I want you to respect me." He covered his
face with his hands and burst out into tears; I was abso-
lutely at a loss what to say or do.
Calm yourself," I said to him, you are too sensitive.
Don't take everything so to heart! Don't analyze, but
look more simply at things! You say yourself that you
have character. Endure it, for you have not much longer
to suffer," I said to him, in an inarticulate way, because
I was agitated both by a feeling of compassion and by a
feeling of regret for having permitted myself mentally to
condemn a truly and deeply unfortunate man.
Yes," he began, if I had heard but once during the
time that I have been in this hell a single word of sym-
pathy, advice, friendship, -a human word, such as I hear
30 A MOSCOW ACQUAINTANCE AT THE FRONT
from you, I might have been able to endure it all in
peace, and I might have undertaken to be and could have
been a soldier, but now it is terrible. When I judge
soundly, I wish for death. Why should I care for a life
of disgrace, and for myself who am lost to everything
good in the world ? And yet, at the least peril, I sud-
denly begin involuntarily to worship this mean life and
to guard it as something precious, and I cannot, je ne puis
pas, constrain myself. That is, I can," he continued
again, after a minute's silence, but it costs me too much
labour, immense labour, when I am alone. With others,
under ordinary conditions, when we go into action, I am
brave, fai fait mes preuves, because I am egotistical and
proud: that is my vice, and in the presence of others--
Do you know, I will ask you to let me stay overnight
with you, because in our tent they will be playing
cards all night; anywhere will do me, -even on the
While Nikita was getting the bed ready we rose, and
again walked up and down through the darkness along
the battery. Giiskov's head was actually very light, for
the two wine-glasses of brandy and the two glasses of
wine made him stagger. When we got up and walked
away from the light, I noticed that he put the ten-rouble
bill, which he had been holding in his hand during the
preceding conversation, into his pocket, so that I might
not see him do it. He continued to speak, saying that
he felt that he was still able to rise again, if he had a man
like me to take interest in him.
We were on the point of going to the tent in order
to lie down, when suddenly a bullet whizzed by us and
lodged in the ground not far away. It was so strange, -
this quiet, sleeping camp, our conversation, and suddenly
the inimical bullet, which, God knew whence, flew amidst
our tents,--it was all so strange that I was for quite
awhile unable to account for what had happened. Our
A MOSCOW ACQUAINTANCE AT THE FRONT 31
soldier Andreev, who was doing sentry duty on the
battery, moved up toward me.
I declare they have stolen up on us A fire could be
seen down there," he said.
The captain ought to be wakened," I said, looking at
He stood bent almost to the ground, and stammered,
wishing to say something, "This is disagree- very
- funny." He said nothing more, and I did not see how
and where he momentarily disappeared.
In the captain's tent a candle was lighted; there was
heard the usual waking cough, and he soon came out,
asking for a linstock to light his pipe by.
"Why is it," he said, smiling, "that they will not let.
me go to sleep to-day ? At first it is you with your re-
duced soldier, and then it is Shamyl. What shall we do ?
Shall we return the fire, or not? Was there nothing said
about it in the order ?"
Nothing. There it is again," I said, "and this time
from two." In reality, toward the right and ahead of us,
two fires flashed in the darkness, like two eyes, and soon
a ball flew past us, and another, apparently one of our
empty shells, which produced a loud and penetrating
shriek. The soldiers crept out from the adjoining tents,
and one could hear them clearing their throats, stretching
themselves, and talking.
"Hear them whistle through the eyelet, just like
nightingales," remarked an artillerist.
"Call Nikita," said the captain, with his habitual
kindly smile. Nikita! Don't hide yourself Come
and listen to the mountain nightingales!"
"Your Honour," said Nikita, standing near the captain,
"I have seen these nightingales before, and I am not
afraid of them; but the guest who was here and who has
been drinking your red wine, the moment he heard it, he
cut and ran past our tent, all bent up like some beast !"
32 A MOSCOW ACQUAINTANCE AT THE FRONT
I think we ought to go and see the commander of
artillery," the captain said to me, in the serious voice of a
superior, "to ask him whether we had better return the
fire or not: it really will do us no good, but still we may
do it. Please take the trouble to ride down and ask him.
Have the horse saddled, that will be quicker Take mine,
Five minutes later the horse was brought to me, and
I rode to the commander of artillery. Remember the
watchword is 'Shaft,'" the precise captain whispered
to me, or else they will not let you through the cordon."
It was about half a verst to the commander of artillery,
and the whole road lay between tents. As soon as I rode
away from our camp-fire, it grew so dark that I could not
see the horse's ears, and only the camp-fires, which now
seemed to be very near, and now very far away, glim-
mered before my eyes. Having ridden a little distance
at the mercy of the horse, to whom I gave the reins,
I began to make out the square white tents, and later the
black ruts of the road; in half an hour, having three
times inquired for the road, and two or three times
tripped against the tent stakes, for which I was every
time met with curses from the tents, and having twice
been stopped by sentinels, I at last arrived at the tent of
the commander of artillery. On my way I heard two
more shots directed upon our camp, but the missiles did
not reach the place where the staff was located.
The commander of artillery ordered me not to return
the fire, especially since the enemy had stopped. I started
home, leading the horse by the bridle and making my
way on foot between the tents of the infantry. More
than once I slowed down my steps whenever I passed a
soldier tent where a candle was lighted, in order to listen
to some story which a jester was telling; or to a book,
which some one was reading, while a whole division, fill-
ing the tent to its fullest capacity, and even crowding
A MOSCOW ACQUAINTANCE AT THE FRONT 33
outside it, were listening to the reader and now and then
interrupting him with some remark or other; or simply
to the soldiers' conversation about the expedition, about
home, and their superiors.
As I passed one of these tents of the third battalion
I heard a loud voice: it was Giskov, who was speaking
boldly and cheerfully. He was answered by young, also
cheerful, gentlemanly, and not soldierly voices. It was
apparently the tent of yunkers or sergeants. I stopped.
I have known him for quite awhile," said Giskov.
"When I lived in St. Petersburg he used to come to see
me often, and I used to call on him. He moved in very
About whom are you speaking ?" asked a drunken
"About the prince," said Gdskov. "We are related,
and, moreover, old friends. You know, gentlemen, it is
nice to have such an acquaintance. He is terribly rich.
A hundred roubles is nothing to him. I have borrowed
money from him until my sister sends me some."
"Well, then, send for it!"
"Directly. Sav6lich dear," said Guiskov, moving toward
the door of the tent, here are ten roubles. Go to the sut-
ler and fetch two bottles of Kakhetinian wine, and what
else, gentlemen ? Speak!" Giskov, staggering, with hair
dishevelled and without his cap, walked out of the tent.
He stopped at the door, opened the flaps of his fur coat,
and put his hands into the pockets of his gray trousers.
Although he was in the light and I in the dark, I
trembled for fear that he might see me, and so I walked on
without making any noise.
Who goes there?" Guskov called out to me in a
very drunken voice. Evidently the cold had affected
him. What devil is loafing there with his horse ?"
I did not answer him, but silently picked my way back
to the road.
IT was after six o'clock when I, having drunk tea, left
the station, the name of which I do not remember, but
which, I remember, was somewhere in the Land of the
Don Army, near NovocherkAsk. It was already dark
when I seated myself at Al6shka's side in the sleigh and
wrapped myself in my fur coat and blanket. Near the
post-house the air seemed to be warm and calm. Al-
though there was no snow falling, not a single star could
be seen overhead, and the sky seemed unusually low and
black as compared with the pure snow plain, which lay
stretched out in front of us.
After passing the dark forms of windmills, one of
which awkwardly flapped its large wings, and getting
beyond the Cossack village, I noticed that the road
became worse and deeper with snow. The wind began to
blow more fiercely on my left, to blow aside the tails and
manes of the horses, and stubbornly to raise and carry
away the snow which was crumbled by the runners and
hoofs. The bell began to tinkle less audibly. A spray
of cold air ran up my back through some opening in my
sleeve, and I thought of the post inspector's advice not to
THE SNOW STORM
travel in order to avoid going astray in the night and
freezing on the road.
"I hope we shall not lose our way," I said to the
driver. Not receiving any answer from him, I put the
question more clearly: "Well, shall we reach the next
station, driver ? Shall we not go astray ?"
"God knows," he answered, without turning his head
around. "I declare there is a blizzard! Not a bit of
the road can be seen. 0 Lord !"
"I wish you would tell me whether you will bring me
to the next station," I continued. Shall we get there ?"
"We must get there," said the driver. He continued
to speak, but I could not hear him through the wind.
I did not wish to turn back; nor did it seem at all
pleasant to wander about all night in the frost and snow-
storm in an absolutely barren plain, such as this part
of the Land of the Don Army was. Besides, although I
could not get a good look at my driver in the dark, I for
some reason did not like him, and he did not inspire me
with confidence in him. He sat straight, with his feet
before him, and not sidewise. He was of tall stature;
his voice was lazy; his cap was somehow not a driver's
cap, it was large and it swayed from side to side. Nor
did he urge his horses on as is proper, but held the reins
in both his hands, like a lackey who has taken the coach-
man's box. Above everything else, I did not trust him
because his ears were wrapped in a kerchief. In short,
this solemn, stooping back, which towered in front of me,
did not please me, and promised no good.
"In my opinion, it would be best to return," Aleshka
said to me. "What pleasure is there in wandering
"0 Lord Just see what a blast is blowing I can't
see the road at all, my eyes are all stuck together 0
Lord !" grumbled the driver.
We had not gone fifteen minutes when the driver
THE SNOW -STORM
stopped his horses, turned the reins over to Alshka, awk-
wardly straightened out his legs from the seat, and,
crunching the snow with his big boots, went away to look
for the road.
What is it? Where are you going ? Lost the road,
eh?" I asked him; but the driver did not make any
reply. He turned his face away from the wind which
cut his face and walked away from the sleigh.
Well? Found it ?" I repeated when he came back.
"No, nothing," he suddenly said, impatiently and
angrily, as though I were to blame for his having lost the
road. Leisurely placing his large feet on the foot-rest, he
began with his frosted hands to separate the reins.
What are we going to do ?" I asked him, when we
"What shall we do? We shall travel whither God
will take us."
We proceeded in the same amble, now obviously at
random, in more than half a foot of loose snow, or over
the brittle and bare crust.
Although it was cold, the snow on my collar melted
very rapidly; the blizzard kept growing stronger, and
from above began to fall a light, crisp snow.
It was evident that we were travelling God knows
where, because, after having journeyed another fifteen
minutes, we no longer saw a single verst post.
Well, what do you think ?" I again asked the driver,
"shall we reach the station ?"
Which station ? We can get back if we give the reins
to the horses; they will take us back; but hardly to the
next station we shall only be lost."
Well, let them go back," I said. And really "
"So you want to go back ?" said the driver.
"Yes, yes, turn back !"
The driver gave the horses the reins. They began to
run faster, and, although I did not notice that we were
40 THE SNOW STORM
turning; the wind soon changed, and soon the windmills
could be seen through the snow. The driver became
bolder and began to talk.
The other day the return sleighs got caught in a
storm," he said, so they had to stay overnight in hay-
stacks. They came back only in the morning. It was
lucky they did find those haystacks, or else they would
have frozen stiff, it was so cold. As it is, one of them
had his feet so frost-bitten that we thought for three
weeks that he would die."
It is not cold now and the wind has gone down," said
I, "so maybe we could try it."
"That is so, it is warm, but it is blowing hard. It is
now at our back, so it seems lighter, but it is blowing
hard. I could go if it were on courier duty or something
of the kind, but not of my own will. It is no joke to
have your passenger frozen. They will make me respon-
sible for you."
JUST then were heard the bells of several tr6ykas
which were rapidly catching up with us.
"A courier bell," said my driver. "There is only one
such at the whole station."
In reality, the bell of the first sleigh, the sound of
which was clearly borne to us through the air, was very
fine: pure, melodious, deep, and slightly quivering. I
later learned that it was the arrangement of a fancier, and
consisted of three bells, of a large one in the middle, with
what is popularly called a wagtail sound, and of two
small ones, tuned at thirds with it. The sound of this
third and of the quivering fifth, which reichoed in the air,
was exceedingly striking and strangely agreeable in this
"The post is running," said my driver, as the first of
the three sleighs came abreast ours. How is the road?
Is it possible to travel upon it ?" he cried to the driver of
the last sleigh; but this one only shouted to his horses,
and made no reply.
The sound of the bells quickly died away in the wind
as soon as the post passed us.
Apparently my driver felt ashamed.
"I suppose we had better go now, sir !" he said to me.
"People have just passed over it, and so their tracks will
I agreed with him, and we again turned against the
wind, and moved forward over the deep snow. I looked
sidewise on the road, so as not to lose sight of the track
THE SNOW STORM
made by the sleighs. For about two versts the track was
clearly visible; then there could be seen only a small
unevenness under the runners; but before long I was
absolutely unable to tell whether it was a track or simply
a drifted layer of snow. The eyes got tired looking at the
monotonously disappearing snow under the runners, and
I began to look ahead of me. We still saw the third
verst-post, but were entirely unable to find the fourth;
as before, we travelled against the wind and with the
wind, to the right and to the left, and finally we reached
a point when my driver said that we had strayed to the
right, while I said it was to the left, and Al6shka proved
that we were going directly back.
We again stopped several times, and the driver dragged
out his large feet and went out to find the road, but all in
vain. I myself went once to see whether that which so
appeared to me was really the road; but no sooner had I
with difficulty made six steps against the wind, and con-
vinced myself that everywhere were the same monotonous,
white layers of snow, and that the road existed only in
my imagination, than I no longer saw the sleigh. I called
out: Driver Al6shka! but I felt how the wind caught
the voice out of my mouth and in a twinkling carried it
away far from me, into the distance. I went where the
sleigh was, but it was not there; I went to the right, and
it was not there, either. I am ashamed to recall in what
loud, penetrating, yes, even a little despairing, voice I
shouted once more, "Driver !" when he was within no
more than two feet of me. His black figure, with his
small whip and enormous cap fallen to one side, suddenly
loomed up before me. IIe took me to the sleigh.
Luckily it is warm," he said, or else, if it should
freeze, it would be terrible !- 0 Lord !"
Give the horses the reins: let them take us back," I
said, seating myself in the sleigh. "Will they take us
back? Eh, driver?"
THE SNOW STORM 43
"They certainly will."
He dropped the reins, two or three times struck the
harness pad of the centre horse with his whip, and we
again went somewhere. We travelled about half an hour.
Suddenly the fancier's bell and two others were heard in
front of us: this time they were moving toward us. Those
were the same tr6ykas, which had deposited the mail
and now were going back with return horses to the sta-
tion. The courier trdyka of large horses with the fan-
cier's bell was swiftly running in front. A driver was
sitting on the box and briskly calling out to his horses.
Back of him, in the body of each empty sleigh, sat two
drivers, and one could hear their loud and merry conver-
sation. One of them was smoking a pipe, and a spark,
fanned by the wind, illuminated part of his face.
As I looked at them I felt ashamed of being afraid to
travel, and my driver, evidently, was experiencing the
same feeling, for we said in one voice: "Let us follow
BEFORE allowing the last tr6yka to pass by, my driver
began awkwardly to turn back and drove the shafts into
the horses tied behind. Three of the horses shied, tore
off the halter, and started to run to one side.
"You cross-eyed devil, can't you see how to turn?
Straight upon people! You devil!" A short driver, an
old man, so far as I could judge from his voice and stat-
ure, who was seated in the last sleigh, began to curse in a
hoarse and quivering voice. He quickly jumped out of
the sleigh and ran after the horses, continuing to curse
profanely, and to call my driver all kinds of names.
The horses were not easily taken. The driver ran after
them, and in a minute the horses and the driver were lost
in the white mist of the snow-storm.
Vasil-i Let me have the dun horse! I can't catch
them this way," his voice was still heard.
One of the drivers, a very tall man, climbed out of the
sleigh, silently unhitched his tr6yka, over the side band
climbed upon one of the horses, and, crunching over the
snow at an ambling pace, was lost in the same direction.
But we, with the other two tr6ykas, started across fields
behind the courier sleigh, which, tinkling with its bell,
raced at full gallop ahead of us.
"Of course he will not catch them !" my driver said, in
respect to the one who had started after the horses.
Since the accursed centre horse has not gone back to
the other horses, it will take them where there will be no
THE SNOW -STORM
From the time that my driver began travelling back of
the others he became more cheerful and talkative, a fact
of which I did not fail to take advantage, since I did not
yet feel like sleeping. I began to ask him where he came
from, what he was doing, and how he was getting on, and
I soon learned that he was a countryman of mine, from
the Government of Tila, village of Kirpichnoe, and a
manorial peasant; that they had little land left, and that
since the cholera they had had no good crop of grain;
that there were two brothers in the family, while a third
was a soldier; that their grain would not last until
Christmas, and so they lived by outside earnings; that
the younger brother was the manager of the household,
because he was married, while he himself was a widower;
that peasants from his village came here every year in
art6ls to hire out as drivers; that he had never driven
before, but that he had taken a place on the post in order
to support his brother; that he, thank God, earned 120
roubles in assignats a year, from which sum he sent
one hundred home; and that life would be passable here,
if the couriers were not such beasts, and the people such
a swearing lot.
What reason did that driver have to swear so ?
Lord! Did I tear away the horses on purpose? Do I
mean anybody's harm? And what made him gallop
away after them? They would come back in time, any-
way. As it is, he will only wear the horses out, and will
be lost himself," repeated the God-fearing peasant.
"What is that black spot?" I asked, noticing a few
black objects in front of us.
"A caravan. How nice it is to travel that way !" he
continued, when we came abreast with huge, mat-covered
wheeled wagons, following each other. "You see, not a
man is to be seen, they are all asleep. Those are intel-
ligent horses: they know the way and can't go astray.
I have travelled with freight," he added, so I know."
THE SNOW STORM
It was really strange to see those immense wagons
covered with snow from the mat top to the wheels
and moving all along. Only in the front corner a mat,
covered two fingers deep with snow, was raised a little,
and for a moment a cap stuck out from it just as our bells
tinkled past the caravan.
A large, piebald horse, stretching its neck and straining
its back, stepped evenly over the trackless road, monoto-
nously shook its shaggy head under the whitened arch,
and pricked one of its snow-covered ears, as we came
abreast with it.
Having travelled another half-hour, the driver again
turned to me:
"Well, sir, what do you think ? Are we travelling in
the right direction ?"
I do not know," I answered.
"At first there was a terrible wind, but now we are
having good weather. No, we are not going right, we
are wandering again," he concluded, with the greatest
It was evident that, notwithstanding the fact that he
was inclined to be a coward, he as the proverb says, In
company death is agreeable became entirely self-pos-
sessed when he saw that there were many of us, and he
did not have to guide or be responsible. He in the most
indifferent manner made observations on the blunders of
the guiding driver, as though he were not in the least
concerned in the matter. And, in fact, I noticed that the
sleigh in the van at times showed its profile on my left
and at others on my right; it even seemed to me that we
were circling in a very small space. However, that might
have been an optical illusion, even as I was led to believe
that the van sleigh was going up-hill or down-hill, or on
an incline, whereas the steppe was absolutely flat.
Having travelled a little while longer, I noticed, as I
thought, far away near the horizon, a long, black, moving
THE SNOW STORM
line; a minute later it became clear to me that it was the
same caravan which we had caught up with before. The
snow just as before covered the squeaking wheels, several
of which did not even turn; the men were still sleeping
under the mats, and the piebald horse of the van in the
same way expanded its nostrils in order to scent the road,
and pricked its ears.
"I declare, we have been circling and circling and have
come back to the same caravan," my driver said, in a dis-
satisfied voice. "The courier horses are good, so it does
not hurt them to run around recklessly, but ours will soon
stop if we are going to travel all night."
He cleared his throat.
"Let us turn back, sir, to save ourselves."
"What for ? We shall get somewhere soon."
"Where ? We shall pass the night on the steppe.
How it is blowing 0 Lord !"
Although I was surprised to see the guiding driver, who
obviously had lost both road and direction, not trying to
find the road but racing at full gallop with merry shouts,
I did not wish to fall behind them.
"Follow them," I said.
The driver started his horses and drove them more
unwillingly than before. He no longer turned back to
talk to me.
THE storm grew stronger and stronger, and from above
fell crisp, tiny flakes of snow. I thought it was beginning
to freeze: my nose and cheeks felt more frosty than
before, a spray of cold air more frequently found its way
under my fur coat, and it became necessary to wrap my-
self well. Now and then the sleigh rattled over a bare,
crusted spot from which the snow had drifted. I had
now travelled nearly six hundred versts without staying
anywhere overnight, and so, although I was interested in
the outcome of our straying, I involuntarily closed my
eyes and began to doze.
Once, as I opened my eyes, I was struck for a moment
by what seemed to be a bright light that illumined the
white plain: the horizon had widened considerably; the
low, black sky had suddenly disappeared; on all sides could
be seen white, slanting lines of falling snow. The form
of the sleigh in front was more distinct, and as I looked
up I thought in the first moment that the clouds were
dispersed and that the falling snow covered the sky.
Just as I awoke, the moon had arisen and was casting its
cold bright light through the loose clouds and the falling
What I saw clearly was my sleigh, the horses, the
driver, and the three sleighs in front of me: the first, the
courier's, in which the driver was sitting alone on the box
and driving at an easy trot; the second, in which sat two
men, who, having thrown down the reins and made a
THE SNOW STORM
windbreak of a cloak, were all the time smoking a pipe, as
could be seen by the sparks which flashed there; and the
third, where no one was to be seen, and where in all like-
lihood the driver was sleeping in the body of the sleigh.
The guiding driver, as I awoke, occasionally stopped his
horses in order to look for the road. Every time we
stopped the howling of the wind became more audible,
and I could see more clearly a surprisingly large quantity
of snow which was borne through the air. In the snow-
shrouded moonlight I saw the short figure of the driver,
with his whip-handle in his hand, testing the snow in front
of him and moving up and down in the dim mist; then
again he walked up to the sleigh, jumped sideways on
the box, and again, above the monotonous whistling of the
wind could be heard his brisk, sonorous calls and the
tinkling of the bells. Whenever the driver of the first
sleigh climbed out to find signs of the road or haystacks,
there proceeded from the second sleigh the vivacious, self-
confident voice of one of the drivers calling out to the
Oh, there, Ignashka We have borne too much to
the left: bear to the right, under the wind;" or, "Don't
circle about in vain! Keep to the snow just as it lies
and we shall come out all right;" or, "How you are
straying! Unhitch the piebald horse and let him lead:
he will take you out to the road. That will be better !"
The one who was counselling this not only did not
unhitch the off-horse or go out on the snow to find the
road, but did not even put his nose out from behind his
cloak; and when Ignashka, the guide, to one of his coun-
sels shouted to him to take the lead himself if he knew
so well where to drive, the counsellor replied that if he
ran a courier sleigh that would be exactly what he would
do, and he would bring us out on the road. But our
horses will not take the lead in a blizzard!" he called out.
"They are not that kind of horses !"
50 THE SNOW STORM
Then don't bother me!" Ignishka replied, merrily
whistling to his horses.
The other driver who was sitting in the same sleigh
with the counsellor said nothing to Ignashka, and in gen-
eral took no part in the matter, although he was not yet
asleep, as I concluded from his inextinguishable pipe,
and because when we stopped I heard his measured, unin-
terrupted talk. Only once, when Ignshka stopped for
the sixth or seventh time, he apparently became annoyed
at the interruption of his pleasant ride and called out to
What are you stopping for ? I declare, he wants to
find the road Don't you know it is a snow-storm ? Even
an engineer could not find the road now. Keep on as
long as the horses pull you! Don't be afraid, we shall
not freeze to death Go, I say !"
Indeed A postilion was frozen to death last year !"
my driver interposed.
The driver of the third sleigh did not wake up all that
time. Once, during a stop, the counsellor shouted:
"Filipp! Oh, Filipp!" and receiving no reply, he re-
marked: "I wonder whether he is frozen. Ignashka, you
had better take a look."
Ignashka, who had time for everything, walked over
to the sleigh and began to push the sleeper.
Just see how half a bottle has knocked him down!
If you are frozen, say so !" he said, shaking him.
The sleeper muttered something and uttered a curse.
"He is alive, friends!" said IgnCshka, and again he
ran ahead. We started once more, this time so fast
that the small bay off-horse of my sleigh, which continually
received the whip on its tail, more than once jumped up
in an awkward small gallop.
I THINK it must have been about midnight when the
old man and Vasili, who had gone after the stray horses,
came up to us. They had found and caught the horses,
and then fell in with us; but it will always remain a
puzzle to me how they did that in the dark, blind snow-
storm and on the barren steppe. The old man, swinging
his elbows and legs, was riding at a trot on the centre
horse, while the side horses were tied to the arch; for in
a snow-storm the horses may not be let loose. When he
came abreast with us he again began to call my driver
I declare he is a cross-eyed devil! Really "
"Oh, Uncle Mitrich," the story-teller in the second
sleigh shouted, are you alive ? Come into our sleigh!"
The old man made no reply to him, and continued to
curse. When he thought he had said enough he rode up
to the second sleigh.
"Did you get them all?" somebody in the second
I should say so!"
His small figure threw itself with its breast on the back
of the trotting horse, then leaped down on the snow, and
without stopping ran to the sleigh and rolled itself in, its
legs sticking out above the rounds of the body of the
sleigh. Tall Vasili silently seated himself, just as before,
in the first sleigh with Igndshka, and both together began
to look for the road.
"What a swearer O Lord!" mumbled my driver.
THE SNOW -STORM
We then travelled for a long time, without stopping,
over the white desert, in the cold, transparent, and quiver-
ing light of the snow-storm. I would open my eyes, -
and the same clumsy cap and back, covered with snow,
towered before me; the same low arch, under which the
head of the centre horse, with its black mane evenly
flaunting in the wind, was swaying the same length be-
tween the tightly stretched bridle-straps; beyond the back
could be seen the same right-side horse, with its tail tied
short and its splinter-bar occasionally striking against the
wicker body of the sleigh.
I would look down,--and there the same crisp snow
was torn up by the runners and stubbornly raised by the
wind and carried to one side. In front, the guiding sleigh
ran at the same constant distance; on the right and left
everything looked white and dim. The eye looked in
vain for a new object: there was to be seen neither post,
nor stack, nor fence. Everywhere everything was white,
white, and in motion: now the horizon seemed to be im-
measurably distant, now to be reduced on all sides to
within two feet of me; suddenly a white, tall wall grew
out on the right of me and ran along the sleigh, and now
it disappeared to grow out in front again, in order to run
farther and farther away and to disappear once more.
I would look up,- and at first it seemed light, as
though I could see the stars through the snow mist; but
the stars ran away from view higher and higher, and I saw
only the snow which fell past my eyes upon my face
and the collar of my fur coat. The sky was everywhere
equally bright, equally white, colourless, monotonous, and
constantly motionless. The wind seemed to change: now
it blew into my face and stuck my eyes together with
snow; now it angrily on one side flapped the collar of my
fur coat over my head or scornfully switched my face with
it; now it moaned behind me through some chink.
There was heard the feeble, uninterrupted crunching of
THE SNOW- STORM 53
the hoofs and runners on the snow, and the dull clanking
of the bells, as we rode over the deep snow. Occasionally,
when we went against the wind, and over a bared frozen
crust, there were borne to us through the air the energetic
whistling of Ign6shka, and the liquid sound of the bell
with the echoing and tremulous fifth, and these sounds
suddenly gave relief to the dreary character of the desert,
and then again sounded monotonously, playing all the
time with insufferable exactness the tune which I
imagined I was hearing. One of my feet began to freeze,
and when I turned around in order to wrap myself better,
the snow, which covered my collar and cap, fell down be-
hind my neck and made me shudder; but I was, in gen-
eral, still warm in my fur coat, and sleepiness overpowered
RECOLLECTIONS and pictures with increased velocity
alternated in my imagination.
"The counsellor who is all the time calling out in the
second sleigh, I wonder what kind of a peasant he may
be? No doubt he is red-haired, stout, with short legs," I
think, just like Fedor Filippych, our old butler." And
I see the staircase of our big house, and five manorial serv-
ants stepping heavily on towels, as they drag a piano out
of the wing. I see F4dor Filippych, with the rolled up
sleeves of his nankeen coat, carrying one pedal, running
ahead, unfastening a bolt, pulling here at the towel, giving
a push there, creeping between the people's legs, being in
everybody's way, and never ceasing to cry in an anxious
"Back, you people in front! That's it! Lift the tail
end Up, up, and carry it through the door! That's it !"
"Just let us do it alone, F4dor Filippych," timidly
remarks the gardener, jammed against the balustrade, red
with straining, with the greatest exertion holding up a
corer of the grand.
But F6dor Filippych does not cease worrying.
What is this ?" I reflect. "Does he imagine that
he is useful and necessary for the common work, or is he
simply glad because God has given him that self-confident,
persuasive eloquence, and delighted because he is squan-
dering it ? It must be so." And I, for some reason, see
the pond, the tired servants, who, knee-deep in the water,
are dragging a seine, and again Fedor Filippych with a
THE SNOW- STORM
watering-pot, shouting to everybody, running up and down
the shore, and occasionally walking up to the pond in
order, by holding back the golden carps with his hand, to
let the turbid water flow out and to take up fresh water.
And now it is noon, in the month of July. I am going
somewhere over the newly mown grass of the orchard,
under the burning and direct rays of the sun; I am still
very young, and I am lacking something and wishing for
something. I go to the pond, to my favourite place, be-
tween the brier-bushes and the birch avenue, and lie down
to sleep. I remember the feeling with which I, lying
down, look through the red, prickly stems of the brier
upon the black globules of dry earth, and the glinting
light blue mirror of the pond. It is the feeling of a cer-
tain naive self-satisfaction and sadness. Everything
around me is so beautiful and all that beauty so affects
me, that it seems to me that I myself am good, and the
one thing that annoys me is that nobody admires me.
It is hot. I try to fall asleep in order to find consola-
tion; but the flies, the unendurable flies, give me no rest
eveh here, begin to gather around me, and stubbornly and
stiffly, like knuckle-bones, keep leaping from my forehead
to my hands.
A bee buzzes not far from me in the hottest place; yel-
low-winged butterflies fly exhausted from blade to blade.
I look up: my eyes pain, the sun burs too brightly
through the light foliage of the curly birch-tree, which
sways its boughs high above me and softly, and I feel
I cover my face with my handkerchief: I feel suffo-
cated, and the flies seem to stick to my hands on which
In the brier thicket the sparrows begin to fuss. One
of them has leaped down on the ground, about two feet
from me: he twice pretends to pick at the ground, and,
rustling in the twigs, and giving a merry chirp, he flies
56 THE SNOW STORM
out of the thicket; another, too, leaps down on the ground,
raises his tail, looks about him, and flies away after the
first, like an arrow, with a twittering.
On the pond are heard the strokes of the beetles on the
wet clothes, and these strokes reecho, and are, as it were,
carried downward, over the surface of the pond. I hear
the laughter and chatting and plashing of bathers.
A gust of wind makes the tops of the birches rustle at
a distance from me; now it comes nearer, and I hear it
stir the grass, and now the leaves of the brier thicket get
into commotion and flap on their branches; and now,
raising a corner of my handkerchief and tickling my per-
spiring face, a fresh spray has reached me.
A fly has found its way through the opening of the
raised handkerchief, and in fright flutters about my moist
mouth. A dry twig presses against my back. No, I
can't lie any longer: I will go to take a swim. But just
then I hear some hasty steps near that very brier thicket,
and a woman's frightened voice:
"O Lord What shall we do ? And no men around !"
"What is it? What ?" I, running out into the sun,
ask the servant woman who runs, sobbing, past me.
She only looks back on me, sways her hands, and runs
ahead. And now here is seventy-year-old Matrina, hold-
ing down the kerchief with her hand, as it slips from her
head, tripping along, dragging one foot in a woollen stock-
ing, and running to the pond. Two girls run, holding
each other's hands, and a ten-year-old boy, in his father's
coat, clutching the hempen skirt of one of them, follows.
"What has happened ?" I ask them.
"A peasant has drowned."
"In the pond."
"Who? One of ours? "
"No, a transient."
Coachman Ivan, scuffing his huge boots over the mown
THE SNOW -STORM 57
grass, and fat steward Yakov, drawing breath with diffi-
culty, run to the pond, and I after them.
I remember the feeling which said to me: "Jump in
and pull out the peasant! Save him, and everybody will
admire you," which was precisely what I wanted.
But where, where?" I ask the crowd of manorial
servants collected on the shore.
Over yonder, right in the whirlpool, near the other
shore, almost near the bath-house," says the laundress,
putting the wet clothes on the yoke. I saw him dive
under; then he appeared again, and again went out of
sight; he showed up once more, and cried, 'People, I am
drowning!' and again went down, -nothing but bubbles
came up. Then I knew that a man was drowning, so
I yelled, 'People, a man is drowning!'"
The laundress swings the yoke on her shoulder, and,
waddling sidewise, walks over a foot-path away from the
What a misfortune !" says Yakov Ivanov, the steward,
in a desperate voice. What a lot of trouble there will
now be with the rural court! There will be no getting
rid of it!"
A peasant with a scythe makes his way through the
crowd of women, children, and old men, who are gathered
at the farther shore, and, hanging his scythe on the branch
of a willow, slowly takes off his boots.
Where is it ? Where did he drown ?" I keep asking,
wishing to jump in there and do something unusual.
I have pointed out to me the smooth surface of the
pond, which the passing breeze ripples now and then.
I cannot make out how he has drowned: the water con-
tinues to stand just as smoothly, beautifully, and indiffer-
ently above him, resplendent in the gold of the afternoon
sun, and it seems to me that I am unable to do anything,
and that I shall not surprise any one, especially since I
am a poor swimmer; meanwhile the peasant is pulling
THE SNOW STORM
the shirt over his head, ready to jump in. All look at
him in hope and breathless expectancy; but having gone
into the water up to his shoulders, the peasant slowly
returns and puts on his shirt,- he cannot swim.
More and more people run up, and the crowd grows
bigger and bigger; the women hold on to each other; but
nobody offers any aid. Those who have just arrived give
all kinds of advice, and sigh, and fright and despair are
depicted in their faces; of those who have been there
awhile, some, being tired of standing, sit down on the
grass, while others go back. Old Matrena asks her
daughter whether she has closed the damper of the stove;
the boy in his father's coat with precision throws pebbles
into the water.
But now, barking and looking back in doubt, Trez6rka,
F4dor Filippych's dog, comes running down-hill; and now
his own form, running down-hill and shouting something,
appears from behind the brier thicket.
"What are you standing for ?" he calls out, taking off
his coat on the run. "A man has drowned, and they
stand there Let me have a rope !"
Everybody looks in hope and fear at Fedor Filippych
while he, holding with his hand the shoulder of an
obliging servant, with the tip of his left boot pulls off the
heel of his right.
Over there, where the people are standing, over
there, a little to the right of the willow, Fddor Filippych!
Over there," somebody says to him.
"I know," he answers, and, frowning, no doubt in reply
to the signs of shame expressed in the crowd of women,
pulls off his shirt and takes down his cross, which he
hands to the gardener's boy, who is standing before him
in an attitude of admiration. Then, stepping energetic-
ally over the mown grass, he goes up to the pond.
Trezdrka, perplexed as to the cause of the swift move-
ments of his master, has stopped near the crowd and,
THE SNOW STORM 59
having swallowed with a smacking noise several grass-
blades near the shore, looks questioningly at him, and
with a merry yap throws himself into the water with
At first nothing is seen but foam and spray, wlich
reaches us on the shore; then F4dor Filippych gracefully
swings his arms and, evenly raising and lowering his back,
with a hand over hand motion, briskly swims to the other
shore. Trez6rka gets his mouth full of water, hurriedly
turns back, shakes himself off near the crowd, and on
his back dries himself on the shore.
While F4dor Filippych is reaching the other shore,
two coachmen run up to. the willow with a seine rolled
up on a stick. Fedor Filippych for some reason or other
raises his arms, dives once, twice, a third time, every time
letting a stream of water out of his mouth, handsomely
tossing his hair, and not answering the questions which
are hurled at him on all sides. Finally he comes out on
the shore, and, so far as I can see, is busy merely with
giving orders about the spreading of the seine. The
seine is dragged out, but there is nothing in the net
but ooze, and a few small carps wiggling in it. While
the seine is thrown out again I pass over to the other
All that is heard is the voice of Fedor Filippych giving
orders, the plashing of the wet rope in the water, and
sighs of terror. The wet rope, which is attached to the
right wing, is ever more covered with grass, and comes
ever farther out of the water.
"Now pull together, as one man, pull!" shouts Fedor
Filippych. The water-soaked floats make their appear-
"There is something coming It pulls hard, friends,"
somebody calls out.
Now the wings with two or three little carps wriggling
in them are pulled out on the shore, where they wet and
THE SNOW STORM
crush the grass. And now through the thin, quivering
layer of troubled water there appears something white in
the stretched net. A sigh of terror, not loud, but im-
pressively audible amidst the dead silence, runs through
Pull, harder, out to the shore!" is heard the deter-
mined voice of 'Fdor Filippych, and the drowned man is
dragged out to the willow, over the mowed-down stubbles
of burdock and agrimony.
And now I see my good old aunt in a silk dress; I see
her lilac parasol with a lace edge, which is somehow out
of keeping with this picture of death, so terrible in its
simplicity; I see her face, which is ready to burst out
into tears. I remember the disappointment expressed in
her face because she could not make any use of arnica in
this case; I also remember the painful, aggravating feel-
ing which I experienced when she said to me, with a
naive egotism of love: "Come, my dear! Oh, how ter-
rible this is! And you always go out swimming by
I remember how brightly and hotly the sun baked the
powdery earth underfoot; how it played on the mirror of
the pond; how the large carps plashed near the shore,
while schools of small fish rippled the middle of the
smooth pond; how a hawk circled high in the air, hov-
ering over the ducklings which, dousing and splash-
ing, swam out from the reeds into the pond; how the
white, curly storm-clouds gathered near the horizon; how
the mud which had been brought out on the shore by the
seine slowly receded, and how, walking along the dam, I
again heard the strokes of the beetle, as they reecho over
But this beetle sounds as though two beetles were
tuned to thirds, aid this sound torments and exhausts
me, the more so since I know that this beetle is a bell,
and Fedor Filippych will not make it stop. This beetle,
THE SNOW -STORM
like an instrument of torture, compresses my foot, which
is freezing, -and I fall asleep.
I was awakened, as I thought, by our very rapid ride,
and by two voices calling out right near me:
"Say, Ignashka! Oh, Ignishka !" said the voice of
my driver. Take my passenger! You have to drive
there anyway, but why should I wander about uselessly ?
Igndshka's voice called out over me: "What pleasure
is there for me to be responsible for the passenger ? Will
you put up a bottle ?"
"A bottle! Half a bottle will do."
"Half a bottle, I declare!" shouts another voice. "To
wear out the horses for half a bottle !"
I opened my eyes. The same insufferable, quivering
snow blinded my eyes; there were the same drivers and
horses, but I saw some other sleigh near me. My driver
had caught up with Ignashka, and we for a long time
drove side by side. Although a voice from the other
sleigh advised him not to take less than a bottle, Igndshka
suddenly stopped his sleigh.
"Load them over! So be it! It is your luck! You
will put up the half bottle to-morrow when we come back.
Have you much luggage ?"
My driver jumped out into the snow, with unusual
vivacity for him, bowed to me, and asked me to seat
myself in Ign6shka's sleigh. I had no objection; it was
evident that the God-fearing peasant was so happy over it
that he wished to pour out his gratitude and joy on some-
body: he bowed and thanked me, A1lshka, and Ignashka.
"Well, thank God What was it for anyway, 0 Lord !
We have been driving half the night, and we do not know
whither we are going. He will get you there safely, sir,
while my horses are all worn out."
He transferred the things with increased alacrity.
While the things were being transferred, I went with
62 THE SNOW -STORM
the wind, which almost lifted me off my feet, to the
second sleigh. This sleigh was one-fourth covered with
snow, particularly on the side where the cloak had been
put out as a protection against the wind over the heads of
the two drivers; but back of the cloak it was pleasant
and comfortable. The old man was lying as before with
his legs dangling over the side, and the story-teller con-
tinued his tale: "At the same time as the general comes,
you see, in the name of the king, to Mary, in the prison,
just at that time Mary says to him: General, I have no
need of you, and cannot love you, and so, you see, you are
not my lover; but my lover is that same prince.'
"At the same time he went on, but, seeing me, he
grew silent for a moment and began to fan the spark on
Well, sir, have you come to us to hear a tale ?" said
the other, whom I have called the counsellor.
"Yes, it is nice and jolly here with you !" I said.
"It drives away dulness. At least, you have no time
Do you not know where we are now ?"
This question did not please the drivers, so I thought.
Who can make out where? Maybe we have driven
into the Calmuck country," replied the counsellor.
What are we going to do?" I asked.
"What are we going to do? We will keep driving,
and maybe we shall get somewhere," he said, in a dis-
But if we do not, and the horses stick in the snow,
what then ?"
But we shall freeze to death."
Of course, that is possible, because we can't see any
haystacks now: evidently we have got into the Calmuck
country. Above everything else we must watch the
THE SNOW STORM 63
"Are you afraid, sir, you will freeze ?" asked the old
man, in a trembling voice.
Although he seemed to be making fun of me, he ap-
parently was chilled to his bones.
"Yes, it is getting very cold," said I.
"Ah, sir! You ought to do the way I do: don't mind
it, and take a run, and you will feel warmer."
It's great to run behind the sleigh," said the coun-
PLEASE, all is ready !" Aldshka cried to me, from the
The snow-storm was so severe that only by bending
over and clutching the skirts of my overcoat with both
my hands was I able with the greatest difficulty to make
the few steps which separated me from the sleigh, over
the drifting snow which was carried away from under my
feet. My former driver was already kneeling in the
middle of the empty sleigh; but, upon seeing me, he
raised his large cap, whereat the wind furiously flaunted
his hair, and asked me for a pourboire. No doubt, he did
not expect anything, for my refusal did not in the least
disappoint him. He thanked me anyway, shoved his cap
back on his head, and said to me: "Well, sir, God grant
you -" and, jerking his reins and smacking his lips, he
moved away from us. Soon after Ignashka, too, swayed
with his whole back, and shouted to his horses. Again
the sound of the crunching hoofs, of the shouting, and
of the bells took the place of the howling wind, which
became particularly audible whenever we stopped.
For about fifteen minutes after the transfer I did not
sleep, finding diversion in watching the form of my new
driver and of his horses. Ign6shka sat on the box in a
dashing fashion, kept leaping up, waved his hand, with
the whip hanging down from it, at the horses, shouted,
beat one foot against the other, and, bending over, adjusted
the crupper of the centre horse, which kept sliding off to
the right. He was not tall, but, as I thought, well formed.
THE SNOW STORM
Above his short fur coat he wore a beltless cloak, the
collar of which was almost thrown back; his neck was
entirely bare; he wore not felt, but leather boots and a
small cap, which he kept taking off and fixing on his
head. His ears were covered by his hair only. In all his
movements there was to be seen not only energy, but
something more, I thought, namely, a desire to rouse this
energy in himself. Still, the farther we travelled, the
more frequently he, to adjust himself, jumped up in his
seat, clapped his feet together, and started conversations
with A14shka and me. I thought he was afraid of losing
And there was good reason for it: although the horses
were good, the road became more difficult with every step,
and we could see the horses running less willingly. It
became necessary to use the whip, and the good, large,
shaggy centre horse stumbled two or three times, even
though, taking fright, it jerked forward and swung its
shaggy head almost as high as the bell. The right side
horse, which I involuntarily watched, visibly dropped the
traces and the long leather tassel of the crupper which
kept dangling and bobbing on the off side, and begged
for the whip, but, being a good, and even a mettled,
horse, it seemed to be annoyed at its own weakness, and
angrily lowered and raised its head, begging for the reins.
It was really terrible to see the snow-storm and frost
growing stronger, the horses weakening, the road getting
worse, and ourselves not knowing where we were, or
whither we were going, or whether we should reach the
station at all, or even a shelter, and it was ridiculous
and strange to hear the bell tinkling with such freedom
and cheerfulness, and Ignashka shouting so briskly and
beautifully, as though it were a sunny day during the
Epiphany frosts, and we were out for a holiday sleigh-
ride along a village street; but, strangest of all, was the
thought that we were travelling, 'and travelling fast, some-
THE SNOW STORM
where away from the spot in which we were. Ignishka
started a song, in a horrible falsetto, it is true, but in such
a loud voice and with such pauses, during which he
whistled, that it would have been strange to be timid
while listening to him.
Ho, there! Don't yell that way, Ignashka!" was
heard the counsellor's voice. Stop a bit!"
Ignishka stopped. Again everything was silent, and
the wind began to moan and howl, and the snow, whirl-
ing, fell more heavily upon the sleigh. The counsellor
walked over to us.
"Well, what ?"
"What? Where are we going?"
Who knows? "
"Are your feet frozen that you strike them so ?"
"I hardly feel them."
"You had better get down: there is something glim-
mering there, maybe it is a Calmuck camp. You might
be able to warm your feet."
"All right. Hold the horses here !"
Igndshka ran in the direction pointed out to him.
One must look at everything and watch it: something
might be found. What sense is there in travelling at
random ?" the counsellor said to me. "Just see how he
has made the horses sweat!"
All the time that Ignashka was walking, and that
lasted so long that I was afraid he might have lost his
way, the counsellor told me in a self-confident, quiet
tone of voice what was to be done during a snow-storm,
- that it would be best to unhitch a horse and let it go,
that, as God is holy, it would take them right, and how
sometimes it is possible to go by the stars, and that, if he
had the leading sleigh, we should long ago have been at
THE SNOW STORM 67
"Well, did you find it?" he asked Ign6shka, who was
coming back, with difficulty trailing his legs knee-deep in
"I did find something, some kind of a camp," Ig-
ndshka replied, breathing heavily, but I do not know
what it is. My friend, we must have strayed into the
Prolgovskaya estate. We must bear more to the left."
"What nonsense That is our camp, which is back of
the Cossack village," retorted the counsellor.
But I tell you it is not !"
"I have looked at it, and I know: that's what it is;
and if not that, it is Tamyshevsko. We must keep more
to the right: we shall come out near the long bridge, at
the eighth verst."
"I tell you no! I saw it!" Ignashka replied, in
0 friend, and you call yourself a driver !"
"That's it, I am a driver! Go down yourself !"
"What is the use of my going? I know without
Ign6shka grew apparently angry: he jumped on the
box, without answering him, and drove on.
I declare, my feet are numb: I can't warm them up,"
he said to Aleshka, continuing ever more frequently to
strike his legs together and to scoop out and throw away
the snow which had got into his boot-legs.
I was dreadfully sleepy.
"Is it possible I am freezing to death ?" I thought
through my sleep. "They say death always begins with
sleep. It would be better to drown than freeze stiff. Let
them drag me out with a seine. Still, it does not make
much difference whether I drown or freeze stiff, so long
as that stick will not be pushing me in the back and
I can forget myself."
I forgot myself for a second.
"What will all this end in?" I suddenly say mentally,
opening my eyes for a moment and staring at the white
space. What will it all end in ? If we do not find any
stacks and the horses stop, which, it seems, will soon
happen, we shall all of us freeze to death."
I must confess, although I was a little afraid, the desire
that something unusual, something tragical, might happen
with us, was stronger in me than my petty fear. It
seemed to me that it would not be bad if the horses
themselves brought us on the morning half-frozen to
some distant, unknown village, and if a few of us were
even completely frozen. Dreams of this kind hovered
before me with unusual distinctness, and followed each
other with extraordinary rapidity.
The horses stop; there is ever more snow falling, and
nothing but the ears and the arch of the horses can be
seen. Suddenly Ignishka appears above us with his
tr6yka and hurries past us. We implore him, we cry
to him, to take us ; but the wind carries away the sound,
and there is no voice. Ign6shka laughs, shouts to his
THE SNOW STORM
horses, whistles, and is hidden from us in a deep, snow-
drifted ravine. The old man jumps on horseback, swings
his elbows, and wants to gallop away, but cannot move
from the spot. My old driver, with the large cap, throws
himself upon him, drags him down to the ground, and
tramples upon him in the snow. "You wizard!" he
cries, "you scold! Let us wander together !" But the
old man knocks a hole through the drift with his head:
he is not so much an old man as a rabbit, and he is leap-
ing away from us.
The counsellor, who is F4dor Filippych, tells us all to
sit down in a circle and not to mind being covered up by
the snow, for we will be warmer that way. And really,
we are warm and comfortable; only, I want to drink.
I take out the lunch-basket, treat everybody to rum
and sugar, and myself drink with great pleasure.
The story-teller is telling some tale about the rainbow,
- and above us there is a ceiling of snow and a rainbow.
Now let us each make a room out of the snow, and
let us go to sleep !" I say. The snow is soft and warm,
like fur. I make a room for myself and want to enter it
but F4dor Filippych, who sees the money in my lunch-
basket, says to me:
"Hold on Give me the money We shall have to
die anyway !" and he grabs me by the leg. I give him
the money and only ask him to leave me alone; but they
do not believe that this is all the money I have, and want
to kill me.
I seize the old man's hand and with unspeakable joy
begin to kiss it: the old man's hand is tender and sweet.
At first he tears it away from me, then he gives it to me
of his own accord, and with his other hand pats me.
Still, Fddor Filippych comes to me and threatens me.
I run into my room: it is not a room, but a long, white
corridor, and somebody holds me by my legs. I tear
THE SNOW STORM
My dress and part of my skin remain in the hands of
him who is holding me; but I am only cold and ashamed,
-the more ashamed because my aunt with her parasol
and homeopathic medicine-chest, linking arms with the
drowned man, are coming toward me. They are laughing,
and do not understand the signs which I am making to
I throw myself into the sleigh, and my feet trail in the
snow; but the old man is in pursuit of me, swinging his
arms. The old man is very close to me, but I listen and
I hear two bells ringing in front of me, and I know that
I am saved as soon as I reach them.
The bells sound louder and louder; but the old man
has caught up with me and falls upon my face with his
belly, so that the bells can scarcely be heard. I again
grasp his hand and begin to kiss it The old man is not
an old man, but the drowned person and he cries:
Ign6shka, stop Those are Akhmit's stacks, I think !
Go and take a look at them!"
This is too terrible. No, I will wake up -"
I opened my eyes. The wind had blown the flap of
Al4shka's overcoat on my face, and my knee was uncov-
ered; we were travelling over the bare crust, and the
thirds of the bells could be heard most distinctly with
the quivering fifth.
I looked to see the stacks; but instead of the stacks,
I now see, with open eyes, a house with a balcony and
the crenelated wall of a fortress. I am not much inter-
ested in scrutinizing this house and fortress; what I want
is to see the white corridor, over which I run, and to hear
the sound of the church-bell, and to kiss the hand of the
old man. I again close my eyes and fall asleep.
I SLEPT soundly; but the third of the bells was all the
time audible and now appeared to me in the shape of a
dog, barking and jumping at me, and now as an organ,
of which I was one pipe, and now as French verses, which
I was composing. Then again it appeared to me that
this third was some instrument of torture, with which
they did not cease compressing my right heel. This
sensation was so strong that I awoke and opened my eyes
and rubbed my leg. It was beginning to be numb.
It was a light, turbid, white night. The same motion
pushed me and the sleigh; the same Ign1shka was sitting
sidewise and beating his feet together; the same side
horse, stretching its neck and indolently lifting its feet,
ran at a trot over the deep snow, while the tassel bobbed
up and down on the crupper and switched the horse's
belly. The head of the centre horse with the floating
mane shook its head in even measure, straining and loosen-
ing the reins which were attached to the arch.
All that was covered with snow more than ever before.
The snow whirled in front; from the side it covered
the runners and the feet of the horses up to their knees,
and lodged from above on the collars and caps. The
wind was now on the right, now on the left; it played
with the collar and skirt of Ignashka's cloak and with the
mane of the off horse, and moaned over the arch and
between the shafts.
It became dreadfully cold, and the moment I put my
face out of my collar, the frosty, crisp snow, whirling,
THE SNOW STORM
packed itself on my eyelashes, mouth, and nose, and lodged
behind my neck. I looked around me, and everything
was white, bright, and snowy, not a thing anywhere
but turbid light and snow. I began in earnest to feel
terribly. Alshka was sleeping at my feet and in the
very bottom of the sleigh; his whole back was covered
with a dense layer of snow. Ignishka did not lose
courage: he kept jerking his reins, shouting, and clapping
his feet. The bell sounded just as charmingly. The
horses snorted a little, but continued to run, stumbling
ever more frequently, and stepping more softly.
IgnAshka again leaped up, waved his mitten, and started
a song in his thin, strained voice. Before finishing it,
he stopped the sleigh, threw the reins on the seat, and
climbed down. The wind howled furiously; the snow
covered the skirts of his fur coat, as though shovelled upon
it. I looked around : the third sleigh was not back of us,
it had fallen behind somewhere. Near the second sleigh
the old man could be discerned through the snow mist,
jumping now on one foot, now on the other. Ign6shka
made about three steps from the sleigh, sat down in the
snow, ungirded himself, and began to take off his boots.
"What are you doing there ?" I asked.
I must change my boots, else I shall freeze off my
feet," he replied, continuing at his work.
I was too cold to put my neck out of my collar, in
order to see what he was doing. I sat upright, looking
at the side horse, which, spreading its feet, in a sickly
and tired manner wagged its tied-up and snow-covered
tail. The jar which Ignushka caused to the sleigh, as he
jumped upon his box, woke me up.
Where are we now ?" I asked. Shall we get there
at least at daybreak ?"
"Don't worry: we shall get you there," he replied.
" My feet are now quite warm since I have changed my
THE SNOW-STORM 73
He started; the bell began to ring, the sleigh once
more swayed from side to side, and the wind whistled
under the runners. We again navigated the immeasurable
sea of snow.
I FELL soundly asleep. When Aleshka, kicking me
with his foot, woke me up, and I opened my eyes, it was
day. It seemed even colder than at night. There was
no snow from above; but a stiff, dry wind kept drifting
the powdery snow on the field and especially under the
hoofs of the horses and under the runners. The sky in
the east, to the right of us, was of a dark blue hue and
looked leaden; but the bright, orange, slanting rays were
ever more clearly defined upon it. Overhead, the pale
azure of the heaven could be seen back of white, fleet-
ing, lightly tinged clouds; on the left the clouds were
bright, light, and movable. All about us, so far as the
eye could see, the field was covered by white, deep snow,
scattered in sharp layers.
Here and there could be seen a grayish mound, over
which stubbornly swept crisp, powdery snow. Not one
track, of sleigh, or man, or beast, was visible. The
contour and colours of the driver's back and of the horses
could be clearly discerned and were sharply defined on
the white background. The visor of IgnAshka's dark blue
cap, his collar, his hair, and even his boots were white.
The sleigh was completely covered with snow. The gray
centre horse had the whole right side of its head and of
the top-lock packed with snow; the off horse on my side
had its legs covered with snow up to the knee, and on
the right side the large sweat-drops were frozen into a
rough surface. The tassel bobbed up in the same even
manner, as though to keep time with any imaginable tune,
THE SNOW STORM
and the horse was running as before; but by its sunken,
rising and falling belly and flabby ears one could see how
tired it was.
There was but one new object to arrest attention: it
was a verst-post, from which the snow dropped upon the
ground, and near which the wind had drifted a whole
mound to the right and was still furiously transferring
the crisp snow from one side to another. I was very
much astonished to see that we had travelled a whole
night for twelve hours with the same horses, without
knowing whither we were going or stopping, and yet had
managed to come out all right. Our bell seemed to tinkle
more cheerfully. Ign6shka wrapped himself in his coat
and shouted. Behind us the horses snorted, and the bells
tinkled on the sleigh of the old man and the counsellor;
but the one who had been asleep was positively lost some-
where in the steppe. Having travelled about half a verst,
we came across a fresh, not yet covered-up track of a
sleigh and tr6yka, and occasionally rose-coloured spots of
blood, apparently from a horse that had grazed its foot,
were seen upon it.
"That is Filipp I declare, he has got ahead of us!"
Now a little house with a sign was seen standing all
alone in the snow, which had drifted almost up to the
roof and windows. Near the inn stood a tr6yka of gray
horses, with a curly nap from the frozen sweat, with
outstretched legs and drooping heads. The space before
the door was swept clean, and there stood a shovel; but
the snow still drifted from the roof, and the moaning wind
whirled it about.
In reply to the sound of our bells, a tall, red-cheeked,
red-haired driver came out of the door, holding a glass of
liquor in his hands, and shouted something. Ignashka
turned around to me and asked my permission to stop.
Then, for the first time, I saw his physiognomy.
His face was swarthy and lean, and he had a straight
nose, just such as I had expected, judging from his hair
and build. It was a round, merry, very snub-nosed
physiognomy, with an immense mouth, and sparkling,
light blue eyes. His cheeks and neck were red, as if
rubbed with a piece of cloth; the eyebrows, the long eye-
lashes, and the down which evenly covered the lower
part of his face, were packed with snow and entirely
white. There was but half a verst left to the station,
and we stopped.
Only hurry up !" I said.
"Just one minute," replied IgnAshka, jumping down
from his box, and walking over to Filipp.
Let me have it, friend," he said, taking off the mitten
from his right hand and throwing it with the whip on
the snow. He threw back his head, and in one gulp
emptied the glass of brandy which had been given to
The innkeeper, no doubt an ex-Cossack, came out of
the door with a bottle in his hand.
Who wants some?" he said.
Tall Vasili, a lank, light-haired man, with a goat-like
beard, and the counsellor, a stout, white-haired man, with
a thick white beard encasing his red face, went up to him
and also drank a glass. The old man, too, walked over
to the group of the drinking men, but he was not served;
he went back to his horses, which were tied from behind,
and began to pat one of them on the back and crupper.
The old man was just as I had imagined him: small,
haggard, with a wrinkled, livid face, scanty beard, sharp
little nose, and ground-down yellow teeth. He wore a
new driver's cap, but his short fur coat, worn off, smeared
with tar, and torn at the shoulder and the skirts, did not
cover his knees and his hempen nether garment, which
was tucked into his huge felt boots. He was all bent
and wrinkled, and, with trembling face and knees, was
busy about the sleigh, apparently trying to get warm.
"Well, Mitrich, you had better take half a bottle It
would warm you up," the counsellor said to him.
Mitrich was startled. He adjusted the harness of his
horse, straightened out the arch, and walked over to
Well, sir," he said, taking his cap from off his gray
hair, and making a low obeisance, "we have been wander-
ing about with you the whole night, looking for the road:
you might favour me with a half-bottle. Really, sir, your
Serenity I have nothing to warm myself with," he added,
with a servile smile.
I gave him twenty-five kopeks. The innkeeper brought
out a half-bottle and gave it to the old man. He took off
his mitten and the whip, and stretched out his small,
black, pockmarked, and somewhat livid hand toward the
glass; but the thumb refused to obey him, as though it
did not belong to him: he could not hold the glass, and
he spilled the brandy and dropped the glass on the snow.
All the drivers roared with laughter.
I declare, Mitrich is so frozen that he cannot hold the
Mitrich was very much annoyed at having spilled the
However, they filled another glass for him and poured
it into his mouth. He immediately became more cheer-
ful, ran into the inn, lighted his pipe, began to grin, dis-
playing his yellow, ground teeth, and to swear with every
THE SNOW STORM
word he spoke. Having finished the last glass, the drivers
went back to their sleighs, and we started.
The snow grew whiter and brighter, so that one felt
blinded looking at it. The orange strips rose higher and
higher, and shone brighter and brighter above on the sky;
even the red disk of the sun became visible near the
horizon through the steel gray clouds: the azure became
more brilliant and darker.
On the road, near the village, the track was clear and
distinct and of a yellowish consistency, and here and
there we crossed over sink-holes; in the frosty, com-
pressed air one could feel a certain agreeable lightness
My sleigh went very fast. The head of the centre
horse and its neck, with its mane fluttering up to the
arch, swayed with a rapid motion, almost in one spot,
under the fancier's bell, the tongue of which no longer
rang out, but rattled along the walls. The good side
horses, tugging together at the frozen, crooked traces,
leaped energetically, while the tassel bobbed against the
belly and the crupper. Occasionally a side horse wan-
dered off the beaten road into a snowdrift, sending up a
spray of snow into its eyes, in its attempt to get out
again. Ignashka shouted in a merry tenor; the dry
frost made the runners shriek ; behind us two little bells
were tinkling in a melodious and holiday fashion, and
I could hear the drunken exclamations of the drivers. I
looked back: the gray, curly side horses, stretching out
their necks and breathing evenly, their bits awry, leaped
over the snow. Filipp adjusted his cap, waving the whip;
the old man lay in the middle of the sleigh, his legs being
raised as before.
Two minutes later the sleigh creaked over the planks of
the swept driveway of the station, and Ignishka turned
to me his snow-covered, frost-exhaling, merry face.
"We have brought you here after all, sir I" he said.
MEMOIRS OF A MARKER
MEMOIRS OF A MARKER
IT was about three o'clock. The following gentlemen
were playing: the big guest (that's the way our people
called him), the prince (the one that travels with him all
the time), and then the whiskered gentleman, the little
hussar, Oliver, the one that was an actor, and the Pan.'
There was a good crowd of people.
The big guest was playing with the prince. I was just
walking all around the table, with the rest in my hand,
and counting: ten and forty-eight, twelve and forty-eight.
You know what it is to be a marker: I had not had a bite
in my mouth, and had not slept for two nights, still I had
to keep calling out and taking out the balls. As I was
counting, I looked around, and saw a new gentleman had
come in through the door: he just looked, and looked,
and then sat down on a sofa. All right.
"I wonder who he may be? What kind of a fellow,
I mean ?" was what I thought to myself.
He was neatly dressed, so neatly, as though the gar-
ments had just come from the tailor: checkered tricot
trousers, fashionable coat, short plush waistcoat, and gold
chain, with all kinds of things hanging down from it.
He was neatly dressed, and he himself looked neater
still: he was slender, tall, hair curled toward the front,
1 Polish and Little-Russian word, meaning "gentleman."