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Part 3 Chapter 8


This halting station, like all such stations along the Siberian road, was surrounded by a courtyard, fenced in with a palisade of sharp-pointed stakes, and consisted of three one-storied houses. One of them, the largest, with grated windows, was for the prisoners, another for the convoy1 soldiers, and the third, in which the office was, for the officers.

There were lights in the windows of all the three houses, and, like all such lights, they promised, here in a specially2 deceptive3 manner, something cosy4 inside the walls. Lamps were burning before the porches of the houses and about five lamps more along the walls lit up the yard.

The sergeant5 led Nekhludoff along a plank6 which lay across the yard up to the porch of the smallest of the houses.

When he had gone up the three steps of the porch he let Nekhludoff pass before him into the ante-room, in which a small lamp was burning, and which was filled with smoky fumes7. By the stove a soldier in a coarse shirt with a necktie and black trousers, and with one top-boot on, stood blowing the charcoal8 in a somovar, using the other boot as bellows9. [The long boots worn in Russia have concertina-like sides, and when held to the chimney of the somovar can be used instead of bellows to make the charcoal inside burn up.] When he saw Nekhludoff, the soldier left the somovar and helped him off with his waterproof10; then went into the inner room.

"He has come, your honour."

"Well, ask him in," came an angry voice.

"Go in at the door," said the soldier, and went back to the somovar.

In the next room an officer with fair moustaches and a very red face, dressed in an Austrian jacket that closely fitted his broad chest and shoulders, sat at a covered table, on which were the remains11 of his dinner and two bottles; there was a strong smell of tobacco and some very strong, cheap scent12 in the warm room. On seeing Nekhludoff the officer rose and gazed ironically and suspiciously, as it seemed, at the newcomer.

"What is it you want?" he asked, and, not waiting for a reply, he shouted through the open door:

"Bernoff, the somovar! What are you about?"

"Coming at once."

"You'll get it 'at once' so that you'll remember it," shouted the officer, and his eyes flashed.

"I'm coming," shouted the soldier, and brought in the somovar. Nekhludoff waited while the soldier placed the somovar on the table. When the officer had followed the soldier out of the room with his cruel little eyes looking as if they were aiming where best to hit him, he made the tea, got the four-cornered decanter out of his travelling case and some Albert biscuits, and having placed all this on the cloth he again turned to Nekhludoff. "Well, how can I he of service to you?"

"I should like to be allowed to visit a prisoner," said Nekhludoff, without sitting down.

"A political one? That's forbidden by the law," said the officer.

"The woman I mean is not a political prisoner," said Nekhludoff.

"Yes. But pray take a scat," said the officer. Nekhludoff sat down.

"She is not a political one, but at my request she has been allowed by the higher authorities to join the political prisoners--"

"Oh, yes, I know," interrupted the other; "a little dark one? Well, yes, that can be managed. Won't you smoke?" He moved a box of cigarettes towards Nekhludoff, and, having carefully poured out two tumblers of tea, he passed one to Nekhludoff. "If you please," he said.

"Thank you; I should like to see--"

"The night is long. You'll have plenty of time. I shall order her to be sent out to you."

"But could I not see her where she is? Why need she be sent for?" Nekhludoff said.

"In to the political prisoners? It is against the law."

"I have been allowed to go in several times. If there is any danger of my passing anything in to them I could do it through her just as well."

"Oh, no; she would be searched," said the officer, and laughed in an unpleasant manner.

"Well, why not search me?"

"All right; we'll manage without that," said the officer, opening the decanter, and holding it out towards Nekhludoff's tumbler of tea. "May I? No? Well, just as you like. When you are living here in Siberia you are too glad to meet an educated person. Our work, as you know, is the saddest, and when one is used to better things it is very hard. The idea they have of us is that convoy officers are coarse, uneducated men, and no one seems to remember that we may have been born for a very different position."

This officer's red face, his scents13, his rings, and especially his unpleasant laughter disgusted Nekhludoff very much, but to-day, as during the whole of his journey, he was in that serious, attentive14 state which did not allow him to behave slightingly or disdainfully towards any man, but made him feel the necessity of speaking to every one "entirely," as he expressed to himself, this relation to men. When he had heard the officer and understood his state of mind, he said in a serious manner:

"I think that in your position, too, some comfort could be found in helping15 the suffering people," he said.

"What are their sufferings? You don't know what these people are."

"They are not special people," said Nekhludoff; "they are just such people as others, and some of them are quite innocent."

"Of course, there are all sorts among them, and naturally one pities them. Others won't let anything off, but I try to lighten their condition where I can. It's better that I should suffer, but not they. Others keep to the law in every detail, even as far as to shoot, but I show pity. May I?--Take another," he said, and poured out another tumbler of tea for Nekhludoff.

"And who is she, this woman that you want to see?" he asked.

"It is an unfortunate woman who got into a brothel, and was there falsely accused of poisoning, and she is a very good woman," Nekhludoff answered.

The officer shook his head. "Yes, it does happen. I can tell you about a certain Ernma who lived in Kasan. She was a Hungarian by birth, but she had quite Persian eyes," he continued, unable to restrain a smile at the recollection; "there was so much chic16 about her that a countess--"

Nekhludoff interrupted the officer and returned to the former topic of conversation.

"I think that you could lighten the condition of the people while they are in your charge. And in acting17 that way I am sure you would find great joy!" said Nekhludoff, trying to pronounce as distinctly as possible, as he might if talking to a foreigner or a child.

The officer looked at Nekhludoff impatiently, waiting for him to stop so as to continue the tale about the Hungarian with Persian eyes, who evidently presented herself very vividly18 to his imagination and quite absorbed his attention.

"Yes, of course, this is all quite true," he said, "and I do pity them; but I should like to tell you about Emma. What do you think she did--?"

"It does not interest me," said Nekhludoff, "and I will tell you straight, that though I was myself very different at one time, I now hate that kind of relation to women."

The officer gave Nekhludoff a frightened look.

"Won't you take some more tea?" he said.

"No, thank you."

"Bernoff!" the officer called, "take the gentleman to Vakouloff. Tell him to let him into the separate political room. He may remain there till the inspection19."
















































1 convoy do6zu     
  • The convoy was snowed up on the main road.护送队被大雪困在干路上了。
  • Warships will accompany the convoy across the Atlantic.战舰将护送该船队过大西洋。
2 specially Hviwq     
  • They are specially packaged so that they stack easily.它们经过特别包装以便于堆放。
  • The machine was designed specially for demolishing old buildings.这种机器是专为拆毁旧楼房而设计的。
3 deceptive CnMzO     
  • His appearance was deceptive.他的外表带有欺骗性。
  • The storyline is deceptively simple.故事情节看似简单,其实不然。
4 cosy dvnzc5     
  • We spent a cosy evening chatting by the fire.我们在炉火旁聊天度过了一个舒适的晚上。
  • It was so warm and cosy in bed that Simon didn't want to get out.床上温暖而又舒适,西蒙简直不想下床了。
5 sergeant REQzz     
  • His elder brother is a sergeant.他哥哥是个警官。
  • How many stripes are there on the sleeve of a sergeant?陆军中士的袖子上有多少条纹?
6 plank p2CzA     
  • The plank was set against the wall.木板靠着墙壁。
  • They intend to win the next election on the plank of developing trade.他们想以发展贸易的纲领来赢得下次选举。
7 fumes lsYz3Q     
  • The health of our children is being endangered by exhaust fumes. 我们孩子们的健康正受到排放出的废气的损害。
  • Exhaust fumes are bad for your health. 废气对健康有害。
8 charcoal prgzJ     
  • We need to get some more charcoal for the barbecue.我们烧烤需要更多的碳。
  • Charcoal is used to filter water.木炭是用来过滤水的。
9 bellows Ly5zLV     
n.风箱;发出吼叫声,咆哮(尤指因痛苦)( bellow的名词复数 );(愤怒地)说出(某事),大叫v.发出吼叫声,咆哮(尤指因痛苦)( bellow的第三人称单数 );(愤怒地)说出(某事),大叫
  • His job is to blow the bellows for the blacksmith. 他的工作是给铁匠拉风箱。 来自辞典例句
  • You could, I suppose, compare me to a blacksmith's bellows. 我想,你可能把我比作铁匠的风箱。 来自辞典例句
10 waterproof Ogvwp     
  • My mother bought me a waterproof watch.我妈妈给我买了一块防水手表。
  • All the electronics are housed in a waterproof box.所有电子设备都储放在一个防水盒中。
11 remains 1kMzTy     
  • He ate the remains of food hungrily.他狼吞虎咽地吃剩余的食物。
  • The remains of the meal were fed to the dog.残羹剩饭喂狗了。
12 scent WThzs     
  • The air was filled with the scent of lilac.空气中弥漫着丁香花的芬芳。
  • The flowers give off a heady scent at night.这些花晚上散发出醉人的芳香。
13 scents 9d41e056b814c700bf06c9870b09a332     
n.香水( scent的名词复数 );气味;(动物的)臭迹;(尤指狗的)嗅觉
  • The air was fragrant with scents from the sea and the hills. 空气中荡漾着山和海的芬芳气息。
  • The winds came down with scents of the grass and wild flowers. 微风送来阵阵青草和野花的香气。 来自《简明英汉词典》
14 attentive pOKyB     
  • She was very attentive to her guests.她对客人招待得十分周到。
  • The speaker likes to have an attentive audience.演讲者喜欢注意力集中的听众。
15 helping 2rGzDc     
  • The poor children regularly pony up for a second helping of my hamburger. 那些可怜的孩子们总是要求我把我的汉堡包再给他们一份。
  • By doing this, they may at times be helping to restore competition. 这样一来, 他在某些时候,有助于竞争的加强。
16 chic iX5zb     
  • She bought a chic little hat.她买了一顶别致的小帽子。
  • The chic restaurant is patronized by many celebrities.这家时髦的饭店常有名人光顾。
17 acting czRzoc     
  • Ignore her,she's just acting.别理她,她只是假装的。
  • During the seventies,her acting career was in eclipse.在七十年代,她的表演生涯黯然失色。
18 vividly tebzrE     
  • The speaker pictured the suffering of the poor vividly.演讲者很生动地描述了穷人的生活。
  • The characters in the book are vividly presented.这本书里的人物写得栩栩如生。
19 inspection y6TxG     
  • On random inspection the meat was found to be bad.经抽查,发现肉变质了。
  • The soldiers lined up for their daily inspection by their officers.士兵们列队接受军官的日常检阅。


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