The Devil, by Leo Tolstoy


He threw a newspaper over the revolver.

“Again the same!” said she aghast when she had looked at him. “What is the same?”

“The same terrible expression that you had before and would not explain to me. Jenya, dear one, tell me about it. I see that you are suffering. Tell me and you will feel easier. Whatever it may be, it will be better than for you to suffer so. Don’t I know that it is nothing bad?”

“You know? While . . . ”

“Tell me, tell me, tell me. I won’t let you go.”

He smiled a piteous smile.

“Shall I? — No, it is impossible. And there is nothing to tell.”

Perhaps he might have told her, but at that moment the wetnurse entered to ask if she should go for a walk. Liza went out to dress the baby.

“Then you will tell me? I will be back directly.”

“Yes, perhaps . . . ”

She never could forget the piteous smile with which he said this. She went out.

Hurriedly, stealthily like a robber, he seized the revolver and took it out of its case. It was loaded, yes, but long ago, and one cartridge was missing.

“Well, how will it be?” He put it to his temple and hesitated a little, but as soon as he remembered Stepanida — his decision not to see her, his struggle, temptation, fall, and renewed struggle - - he shuddered with horror. “No, this is better,” and he pulled the trigger . . .

When Liza ran into the room — she had only had time to step down from the balcony — he was lying face downwards on the floor: black, warm blood was gushing from the wound, and his corpse was twitching.

There was an inquest. No one could understand or explain the suicide. It never even entered his uncle’s head that its cause could be anything in common with the confession Eugene had made to him two months previously.

Varvara Alexeevna assured them that she had always foreseen it. It had been evident from his way of disputing. Neither Liza nor Mary Pavlovna could at all understand why it had happened, but still they did not believe what the doctors said, namely, that he was mentally deranged — a psychopath. They were quite unable to accept this, for they knew he was saner than hundreds of their acquaintances.

And indeed if Eugene Irtenev was mentally deranged everyone is in the same case; the most mentally deranged people are certainly those who see in others indications of insanity they do not notice in themselves.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:01