Resurrection, by Leo Tolstoy

Chapter XXIV.

The Trial — The Sentence.

Peter Gerasimovitch’s assumption was correct. The president came back from the debating room with a paper, and read as follows:—“April 28th, 188-. By His Imperial Majesty’s ukase No. ——— The Criminal Court, on the strength of the decision of the jury, in accordance with Section 3 of Statute 771, Section 3 of Statutes 770 and 777, decrees that the peasant, Simeon Kartinkin, 33 years of age, and the meschanka Katerina Maslova, 27 years of age, are to be deprived of all property rights and to be sent to penal servitude in Siberia, Kartinkin for eight, Maslova for four years, with the consequences stated in Statute 25 of the code. The meschanka Botchkova, 43 years of age, to be deprived of all special personal and acquired rights, and to be imprisoned for three years with consequences in accord with Statute 48 of the code. The costs of the case to be borne equally by the prisoners; and, in the case of their being without sufficient property, the costs to be transferred to the Treasury. Articles of material evidence to be sold, the ring to be returned, the phials destroyed.” Botchkova was condemned to prison, Simeon Kartinken and Katerina Maslova to the loss of all special rights and privileges and to penal servitude in Siberia, he for eight and she for four years.

Kartinkin stood holding his arms close to his sides and moving his lips. Botchkova seemed perfectly calm. Maslova, when she heard the sentence, blushed scarlet. “I’m not guilty, not guilty!” she suddenly cried, so that it resounded through the room. “It is a sin! I am not guilty! I never wished — I never thought! It is the truth I am saying — the truth!” and sinking on the bench she burst into tears and sobbed aloud. When Kartinkin and Botchkova went out she still sat crying, so that a gendarme had to touch the sleeve of her cloak.

“No; it is impossible to leave it as it is,” said Nekhludoff to himself, utterly forgetting his bad thoughts. He did not know why he wished to look at her once more, but hurried out into the corridor. There was quite a crowd at the door. The advocates and jury were going out, pleased to have finished the business, and he was obliged to wait a few seconds, and when he at last got out into the corridor she was far in front. He hurried along the corridor after her, regardless of the attention he was arousing, caught her up, passed her, and stopped. She had ceased crying and only sobbed, wiping her red, discoloured face with the end of the kerchief on her head. She passed without noticing him. Then he hurried back to see the president. The latter had already left the court, and Nekhludoff followed him into the lobby and went up to him just as he had put on his light grey overcoat and was taking the silver-mounted walking-stick which an attendant was handing him.

“Sir, may I have a few words with you concerning some business I have just decided upon?” said Nekhludoff. “I am one of the jury.”

“Oh, certainly, Prince Nekhludoff. I shall be delighted. I think we have met before,” said the president, pressing Nekhludoff’s hand and recalling with pleasure the evening when he first met Nekhludoff, and when he had danced so gaily, better than all the young people. “What can I do for you?”

“There is a mistake in the answer concerning Maslova. She is not guilty of the poisoning and yet she is condemned to penal servitude,” said Nekhludoff, with a preoccupied and gloomy air.

“The Court passed the sentence in accordance with the answers you yourselves gave,” said the president, moving towards the front door; “though they did not seem to be quite in accord.” And he remembered that he had been going to explain to the jury that a verdict of “guilty” meant guilty of intentional murder unless the words “without intent to take life” were added, but had, in his hurry to get the business over, omitted to do so.

“Yes, but could not the mistake be rectified?”

“A reason for an appeal can always be found. You will have to speak to an advocate,” said the president, putting on his hat a little to one side and continuing to move towards the door.

“But this is terrible.”

“Well, you see, there were two possibilities before Maslova,” said the president, evidently wishing to be as polite and pleasant to Nekhludoff as he could. Then, having arranged his whiskers over his coat collar, he put his hand lightly under Nekhludoff’s elbow, and, still directing his steps towards the front door, he said, “You are going, too?”

“Yes,” said Nekhludoff, quickly getting his coat, and following him.

They went out into the bright, merry sunlight, and had to raise their voices because of the rattling of the wheels on the pavement.

“The situation is a curious one, you see,” said the president; “what lay before this Maslova was one of two things: either to be almost acquitted and only imprisoned for a short time, or, taking the preliminary confinement into consideration, perhaps not at all — or Siberia. There is nothing between. Had you but added the words, ‘without intent to cause death,’ she would have been acquitted.”

“Yes, it was inexcusable of me to omit that,” said Nekhludoff.

“That’s where the whole matter lies,” said the president, with a smile, and looked at his watch. He had only three-quarters of an hour left before the time appointed by his Clara would elapse.

“Now, if you like to speak to the advocates you’ll have to find a reason for an appeal; that can be easily done.” Then, turning to an isvostchik, he called out, “To the Dvoryanskaya 30 copecks; I never give more.” “All right, your honour; here you are.”

“Good-afternoon. If I can be of any use, my address is House Dvornikoff, on the Dvoryanskaya; it’s easy to remember.” And he bowed in a friendly manner as he got into the trap and drove off.

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Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 20:04