Resurrection, by Leo Tolstoy

Chapter XLV.

Fanarin, the Advocate — The Petition.

Nekhludoff meant to rearrange the whole of his external life, to let his large house and move to an hotel, but Agraphena Petrovna pointed out that it was useless to change anything before the winter. No one would rent a town house for the summer; anyhow, he would have to live and keep his things somewhere. And so all his efforts to change his manner of life (he meant to live more simply: as the students live) led to nothing. Not only did everything remain as it was, but the house was suddenly filled with new activity. All that was made of wool or fur was taken out to be aired and beaten. The gate-keeper, the boy, the cook, and Corney himself took part in this activity. All sorts of strange furs, which no one ever used, and various uniforms were taken out and hung on a line, then the carpets and furniture were brought out, and the gate-keeper and the boy rolled their sleeves up their muscular arms and stood beating these things, keeping strict time, while the rooms were filled with the smell of naphthaline.

When Nekhludoff crossed the yard or looked out of the window and saw all this going on, he was surprised at the great number of things there were, all quite useless. Their only use, Nekhludoff thought, was the providing of exercise for Agraphena Petrovna, Corney, the gate-keeper, the boy, and the cook.

“But it’s not worth while altering my manner of life now,” he thought, “while Maslova’s case is not decided. Besides, it is too difficult. It will alter of itself when she will be set free or exiled, and I follow her.”

On the appointed day Nekhludoff drove up to the advocate Fanarin’s own splendid house, which was decorated with huge palms and other plants, and wonderful curtains, in fact, with all the expensive luxury witnessing to the possession of much idle money, i.e., money acquired without labour, which only those possess who grow rich suddenly. In the waiting-room, just as in a doctor’s waiting-room, he found many dejected-looking people sitting round several tables, on which lay illustrated papers meant to amuse them, awaiting their turns to be admitted to the advocate. The advocate’s assistant sat in the room at a high desk, and having recognised Nekhludoff, he came up to him and said he would go and announce him at once. But the assistant had not reached the door before it opened and the sounds of loud, animated voices were heard; the voice of a middle-aged, sturdy merchant, with a red face and thick moustaches, and the voice of Fanarin himself. Fanarin was also a middle-aged man of medium height, with a worn look on his face. Both faces bore the expression which you see on the faces of those who have just concluded a profitable but not quite honest transaction.

“Your own fault, you know, my dear sir,” Fanarin said, smiling.

“We’d all be in ‘eaven were it not for hour sins.”

“Oh. yes, yes; we all know that,” and both laughed un-naturally.

“Oh, Prince Nekhludoff! Please to step in,” said Fanarin, seeing him, and, nodding once more to the merchant, he led Nekhludoff into his business cabinet, furnished in a severely correct style.

“Won’t you smoke?” said the advocate, sitting down opposite Nekhludoff and trying to conceal a smile, apparently still excited by the success of the accomplished transaction.

“Thanks; I have come about Maslova’s case.”

“Yes, yes; directly! But oh, what rogues these fat money bags are!” he said. “You saw this here fellow. Why, he has about twelve million roubles, and he cannot speak correctly; and if he can get a twenty-five rouble note out of you he’ll have it, if he’s to wrench it out with his teeth.”

“He says ‘‘eaven’ and ‘hour,’ and you say ‘this here fellow,’” Nekhludoff thought, with an insurmountable feeling of aversion towards this man who wished to show by his free and easy manner that he and Nekhludoff belonged to one and the same camp, while his other clients belonged to another.

“He has worried me to death — a fearful scoundrel. I felt I must relieve my feelings,” said the advocate, as if to excuse his speaking about things that had no reference to business. “Well, how about your case? I have read it attentively, but do not approve of it. I mean that greenhorn of an advocate has left no valid reason for an appeal.”

“Well, then, what have you decided?”

“One moment. Tell him,” he said to his assistant, who had just come in, “that I keep to what I have said. If he can, it’s all right; if not, no matter.”

“But he won’t agree.”

“Well, no matter,” and the advocate frowned.

“There now, and it is said that we advocates get our money for nothing,” he remarked, after a pause. “I have freed one insolvent debtor from a totally false charge, and now they all flock to me. Yet every such case costs enormous labour. Why, don’t we, too, ‘lose bits of flesh in the inkstand?’ as some writer or other has said. Well, as to your case, or, rather, the case you are taking an interest in. It has been conducted abominably. There is no good reason for appealing. Still,” he continued, “we can but try to get the sentence revoked. This is what I have noted down.” He took up several sheets of paper covered with writing, and began to read rapidly, slurring over the uninteresting legal terms and laying particular stress on some sentences. “To the Court of Appeal, criminal department, etc., etc. According to the decisions, etc., the verdict, etc., So-and-so Maslova pronounced guilty of having caused the death through poison of the merchant Smelkoff, and has, according to Statute 1454 of the penal code, been sentenced to Siberia,” etc., etc. He stopped. Evidently, in spite of his being so used to it, he still felt pleasure in listening to his own productions. “This sentence is the direct result of the most glaring judicial perversion and error,” he continued, impressively, “and there are grounds for its revocation. Firstly, the reading of the medical report of the examination of Smelkoff’s intestines was interrupted by the president at the very beginning. This is point one.”

“But it was the prosecuting side that demanded this reading,” Nekhludoff said, with surprise.

“That does not matter. There might have been reasons for the defence to demand this reading, too.”

“Oh, but there could have been no reason whatever for that.”

“It is a ground for appeal, though. To continue: ‘Secondly,’ he went on reading, ‘when Maslova’s advocate, in his speech for the defence, wishing to characterise Maslova’s personality, referred to the causes of her fall, he was interrupted by the president calling him to order for the alleged deviation from the direct subject. Yet, as has been repeatedly pointed out by the Senate, the elucidation of the criminal’s characteristics and his or her moral standpoint in general has a significance of the first importance in criminal cases, even if only as a guide in the settling of the question of imputation.’ That’s point two,” he said, with a look at Nekhludoff.

“But he spoke so badly that no one could make anything of it,” Nekhludoff said, still more astonished.

“The fellow’s quite a fool, and of course could not be expected to say anything sensible,” Fanarin said, laughing; “but, all the same, it will do as a reason for appeal. Thirdly: ‘The president, in his summing up, contrary to the direct decree of section 1, statute 801, of the criminal code, omitted to inform the jury what the judicial points are that constitute guilt; and did not mention that having admitted the fact of Maslova having administered the poison to Smelkoff, the jury had a right not to impute the guilt of murder to her, since the proofs of wilful intent to deprive Smelkoff of life were absent, and only to pronounce her guilty of carelessness resulting in the death of the merchant, which she did not desire.’ This is the chief point.”

“Yes; but we ought to have known that ourselves. It was our mistake.”

“And now the fourth point,” the advocate continued. “The form of the answer given by the jury contained an evident contradiction. Maslova is accused of wilfully poisoning Smelkoff, her one object being that of cupidity, the only motive to commit murder she could have had. The jury in their verdict acquit her of the intent to rob, or participation in the stealing of valuables, from which it follows that they intended also to acquit her of the intent to murder, and only through a misunderstanding, which arose from the incompleteness of the president’s summing up, omitted to express it in due form in their answer. Therefore an answer of this kind by the jury absolutely demanded the application of statutes 816 and 808 of the criminal code of procedure, i.e., an explanation by the president to the jury of the mistake made by them, and another debate on the question of the prisoner’s guilt.”

“Then why did the president not do it?”

“I, too, should like to know why,” Fanarin said, laughing.

“Then the Senate will, of course, correct this error?”

“That will all depend on who will preside there at the time. Well, now, there it is. I have further said,” he continued, rapidly, “a verdict of this kind gave the Court no right to condemn Maslova to be punished as a criminal, and to apply section 3, statute 771 of the penal code to her case. This is a decided and gross violation of the basic principles of our criminal law. In view of the reasons stated, I have the honour of appealing to you, etc., etc., the refutation, according to 909, 910, and section 2, 912 and 928 statute of the criminal code, etc., etc. . . . to carry this case before another department of the same Court for a further examination. There; all that can be done is done, but, to be frank, I have little hope of success, though, of course, it all depends on what members will be present at the Senate. If you have any influence there you can but try.”

“I do know some.”

“All right; only be quick about it. Else they’ll all go off for a change of air; then you may have to wait three months before they return. Then, in case of failure, we have still the possibility of appealing to His Majesty. This, too, depends on the private influence you can bring to work. In this case, too, I am at your service; I mean as to the working of the petition, not the influence.”

“Thank you. Now as to your fees?”

“My assistant will hand you the petition and tell you.”

“One thing more. The Procureur gave me a pass for visiting this person in prison, but they tell me I must also get a permission from the governor in order to get an interview at another time and in another place than those appointed. Is this necessary?”

“Yes, I think so. But the governor is away at present; a vice-governor is in his place. And he is such an impenetrable fool that you’ll scarcely be able to do anything with him.”

“Is it Meslennikoff?”

“Yes.”

“I know him,” said Nekhludoff, and got up to go. At this moment a horribly ugly, little, bony, snub-nosed, yellow-faced woman flew into the room. It was the advocate’s wife, who did not seem to be in the least bit troubled by her ugliness. She was attired in the most original manner; she seemed enveloped in something made of velvet and silk, something yellow and green, and her thin hair was crimped.

She stepped out triumphantly into the ante-room, followed by a tall, smiling man, with a greenish complexion, dressed in a coat with silk facings, and a white tie. This was an author. Nekhludoff knew him by sight.

She opened the cabinet door and said, “Anatole, you must come to me. Here is Simeon Ivanovitch, who will read his poems, and you must absolutely come and read about Garshin.”

Nekhludoff noticed that she whispered something to her husband, and, thinking it was something concerning him, wished to go away, but she caught him up and said: “I beg your pardon, Prince, I know you, and, thinking an introduction superfluous, I beg you to stay and take part in our literary matinee. It will be most interesting. M. Fanarin will read.”

“You see what a lot I have to do,” said Fanarin, spreading out his hands and smilingly pointing to his wife, as if to show how impossible it was to resist so charming a creature.

Nekhludoff thanked the advocate’s wife with extreme politeness for the honour she did him in inviting him, but refused the invitation with a sad and solemn look, and left the room.

“What an affected fellow!” said the advocate’s wife, when he had gone out.

In the ante-room the assistant handed him a ready-written petition, and said that the fees, including the business with the Senate and the commission, would come to 1,000 roubles, and explained that M. Fanarin did not usually undertake this kind of business, but did it only to oblige Nekhludoff.

“And about this petition. Who is to sign it?”

“The prisoner may do it herself, or if this is inconvenient, M. Fanarin can, if he gets a power of attorney from her.”

“Oh, no. I shall take the petition to her and get her to sign it,” said Nekhludoff, glad of the opportunity of seeing her before the appointed day.

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