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Part 1 Chapter 35

THE PROCUREUR--NEKHLUDOFF REFUSES TO SERVE.

During an interval Nekhludoff got up and went out into the corridor, with the intention of not returning to the court. Let them do what they liked with him, he could take no more part in this awful and horrid tomfoolery.

Having inquired where the Procureur's cabinet was he went straight to him. The attendant did not wish to let him in, saying that the Procureur was busy, but Nekhludoff paid no heed and went to the door, where he was met by an official. He asked to be announced to the Procureur, saying he was on the jury and had a very important communication to make.

His title and good clothes were of assistance to him. The official announced him to the Procureur, and Nekhludoff was let in. The Procureur met him standing, evidently annoyed at the persistence with which Nekhludoff demanded admittance.

"What is it you want?" the Procureur asked, severely.

"I am on the jury; my name is Nekhludoff, and it is absolutely necessary for me to see the prisoner Maslova," Nekhludoff said, quickly and resolutely, blushing, and feeling that he was taking a step which would have a decisive influence on his life.

The Procureur was a short, dark man, with short, grizzly hair, quick, sparkling eyes, and a thick beard cut close on his projecting lower jaw.

"Maslova? Yes, of course, I know. She was accused of poisoning," the Procureur said, quietly. "But why do you want to see her?" And then, as if wishing to tone down his question, he added, "I cannot give you the permission without knowing why you require it."

"I require it for a particularly important reason."

"Yes?" said the Procureur, and, lifting his eyes, looked attentively at Nekhludoff. "Has her case been heard or not?"

"She was tried yesterday, and unjustly sentenced; she is innocent."

"Yes? If she was sentenced only yesterday," went on the Procureur, paying no attention to Nekhludoff's statement concerning Maslova's innocence, "she must still he in the preliminary detention prison until the sentence is delivered in its final form. Visiting is allowed there only on certain days; I should advise you to inquire there."

"But I must see her as soon as possible," Nekhludoff said, his jaw trembling as he felt the decisive moment approaching.

"Why must you?" said the Procureur, lifting his brows with some agitation.

"Because I betrayed her and brought her to the condition which exposed her to this accusation."

"All the same, I cannot see what it has to do with visiting her."

"This: that whether I succeed or not in getting the sentence changed I want to follow her, and--marry her," said Nekhludoff, touched to tears by his own conduct, and at the same time pleased to see the effect he produced on the Procureur.

"Really! Dear me!" said the Procureur. "This is certainly a very exceptional case. I believe you are a member of the Krasnoporsk rural administration?" he asked, as if he remembered having heard before of this Nekhludoff, who was now making so strange a declaration.

"I beg your pardon, but I do not think that has anything to do with my request," answered Nekhludoff, flushing angrily.

"Certainly not," said the Procureur, with a scarcely perceptible smile and not in the least abashed; "only your wish is so extraordinary and so out of the common."

"Well; but can I get the permission?"

"The permission? Yes, I will give you an order of admittance directly. Take a seat."

He went up to the table, sat down, and began to write. "Please sit down."

Nekhludoff continued to stand.

Having written an order of admittance, and handed it to Nekhludoff, the Procureur looked curiously at him.

"I must also state that I can no longer take part in the sessions."

"Then you will have to lay valid reasons before the Court, as you, of course, know."

"My reasons are that I consider all judging not only useless, but immoral."

"Yes," said the Procureur, with the same scarcely perceptible smile, as if to show that this kind of declaration was well known to him and belonged to the amusing sort. "Yes, but you will certainly understand that I as Procureur, can not agree with you on this point. Therefore, I should advise you to apply to the Court, which will consider your declaration, and find it valid or not valid, and in the latter case will impose a fine. Apply, then, to the Court."

"I have made my declaration, and shall apply nowhere else," Nekhludoff said, angrily.

"Well, then, good-afternoon," said the Procureur, bowing his head, evidently anxious to be rid of this strange visitor.

"Who was that you had here?" asked one of the members of the Court, as he entered, just after Nekhludoff left the room.

"Nekhludoff, you know; the same that used to make all sorts of strange statements at the Krasnoporsk rural meetings. Just fancy! He is on the jury, and among the prisoners there is a woman or girl sentenced to penal servitude, whom he says he betrayed, and now he wants to marry her."

"You don't mean to say so."

"That's what he told me. And in such a strange state of excitement!"

"There is something abnormal in the young men of to-day."

"Oh, but he is not so very young."

"Yes. But how tiresome your famous Ivoshenka was. He carries the day by wearying one out. He talked and talked without end."

"Oh, that kind of people should be simply stopped, or they will become real obstructionists."

聂赫留朵夫等到法庭第一次宣布审讯暂停,就站起身来,走到过道里,决心再也不回法庭了。不管他们拿他怎么办,他反正再不能参与这种既可怕又可憎的蠢事。

聂赫留朵夫打听到检察官办公室在什么地方,就去找他。差役不肯放他进去,说是检察官此刻有事。但聂赫留朵夫不理他,径自走进门去。有一个官吏迎面走来,聂赫留朵夫就请他向检察官通报,说他是陪审员,有要事见他。公爵的头衔和讲究的衣着帮了聂赫留朵夫的忙。那官吏报告了检察官,就放聂赫留朵夫进去。检察官站着接待他,对聂赫留朵夫执意要求见他,显然不以为然。

“您有什么事?”检察官严厉地问。

“我是陪审员,姓聂赫留朵夫,我有事要同被告玛丝洛娃见面,”聂赫留朵夫迅速而坚决地说,脸涨得通红,意识到他现在所做的事将会对他今后的生活起决定作用。

检察官个儿不高,肤色浅黑,短短的头发已经花白,两只灵活的眼睛炯炯有神,突出的下巴上留着浓密的山羊胡子。“玛丝洛娃吗?我当然知道。她被控犯了毒死人命罪,”检察官若无其事地说。“那么您究竟有什么事要见她?”接着仿佛要缓和一下口气,补充说:“我若不知道为什么事,就不能准许您见她。”

“我要见她,因为我有一件特别重要的事,”聂赫留朵夫涨红了脸说。

“噢,原来是这样,”检察官说,抬起眼睛,仔细对聂赫留朵夫瞧了瞧。“她的案子有没有审问过?”

“她昨天受过审,被冤枉判了四年苦役。她没有罪。”

“噢,原来是这样。既然她昨天才被判决,”检察官说,对聂赫留朵夫说玛丝洛娃无罪那句话根本不加理会,“那么,在正式宣判以前她照理应关在拘留所里。拘留所的探望日期是有规定的。我建议您到那里去问一下。”

“但我需要见她,越快越好,”聂赫留朵夫下巴颤抖着说,感到关键性时刻接近了。

“您究竟有什么事一定要见她?”检察官有几分不安地扬起眉毛,问。

“因为她没有罪,却判她服苦役。我才是罪魁祸首,”聂赫留朵夫颤声说,同时觉得他没有必要说这些话。

“这话怎么说?”检察官问。

“因为我玩弄了她,害她落到现在这种地步。要不是我弄得她走上歧路,她也不至于受这样的控告了。”

“我还是不明白,这事同探监有什么关系。”

“有关系,因为我想跟她去,还要……同她结婚,”聂赫留朵夫说。他一讲到这事,眼泪就又夺眶而出。

“是吗?原来如此!”检察官说。“这倒真是个非常例外的事件。您好象是克拉斯诺彼尔斯克地方自治会的议员,是吗?”检察官问,仿佛此刻宣布奇怪决定的聂赫留朵夫,他以前听到过似的。

“对不起,我想这事同我的要求没有关系,”聂赫留朵夫涨红了脸,怒气冲冲地回答。

“当然没有,”检察官带着隐约的微笑,若无其事地说,“不过您的愿望太特别太出格了……”

“那么我能获得许可吗?”

“许可?好的,我这就给您打个许可证。请您稍微坐一会儿。”

他走到桌子旁边,坐下来,动手写。

“请您坐一会儿。”

聂赫留朵夫站着不动。

检察官写好许可证,交给聂赫留朵夫,好奇地望着他。

“我还要声明一下,”聂赫留朵夫说,“我不能再参加审讯了。”

“这可得向法庭提出正当理由。这一点您一定也知道。”

“理由就是,我认为一切审判不仅无益,而且是不道德的。”

“噢,原来如此,”检察官说时依旧带着隐约可辨的微笑,仿佛用这样的笑容表示他熟悉这种意见,并且认为是种可笑的谬论。“原来如此,不过您一定明白,我作为法庭检察官,不能同意您的意见。因此我劝您把这事向法庭提出,法庭会处理您的申请,裁定您的理由是不是正当。如果不正当,您就得付出一笔罚款。您去向法庭交涉吧。”

“我声明过了,哪儿也不去了,”聂赫留朵夫生气地说。

“再见,”检察官鞠躬说,显然想尽快摆脱这个古怪的来访者。

“刚才来找您的是谁?”聂赫留朵夫一走,就有个法官走进办公室,问检察官。

“是聂赫留朵夫,说实在的,他在克拉斯诺彼尔斯克县自治会上就发表过种种怪论。您倒想想,他是陪审员,竟发现被告中有个女人被判服苦役,他说他玩弄过她,现在打算跟她结婚。”

“怎么会有这样的事?”

“他就是这样对我说的……而且激动得厉害。”

“现在的年轻人都有点怪,有点不正常。”

“可他已经不太年轻了。”

“嘿,老兄,你们那个大名鼎鼎的伊凡申科夫可真把人烦死了。他说呀说呀说个没完,简直叫人受不了。”

“干脆得制止这种人发言,要不真是十足的捣乱公堂……”



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