In this state of mind Nekhludoff left the Court and went into the jurymen’s room. He sat by the window smoking all the while, and hearing what was being said around him.
The merry merchant seemed with all his heart to sympathise with Smelkoff’s way of spending his time. “There, old fellow, that was something like! Real Siberian fashion! He knew what he was about, no fear! That’s the sort of wench for me.”
The foreman was stating his conviction, that in some way or other the expert’s conclusions were the important thing. Peter Gerasimovitch was joking about something with the Jewish clerk, and they burst out laughing. Nekhludoff answered all the questions addressed to him in monosyllables and longed only to be left in peace.
When the usher, with his sideways gait, called the jury back to the Court, Nekhludoff was seized with fear, as if he were not going to judge, but to be judged. In the depth of his soul he felt that he was a scoundrel, who ought to be ashamed to look people in the face, yet, by sheer force of habit, he stepped on to the platform in his usual self-possessed manner, and sat down, crossing his legs and playing with his pince-nez.
The prisoners had also been led out, and were now brought in again. There were some new faces in the Court witnesses, and Nekhludoff noticed that Maslova could not take her eyes off a very fat woman who sat in the row in front of the grating, very showily dressed in silk and velvet, a high hat with a large bow on her head, and an elegant little reticule on her arm, which was bare to the elbow. This was, as he subsequently found out, one of the witnesses, the mistress of the establishment to which Maslova had belonged.
The examination of the witnesses commenced: they were asked their names, religion, etc. Then, after some consultation as to whether the witnesses were to be sworn in or not, the old priest came in again, dragging his legs with difficulty, and, again arranging the golden cross on his breast, swore the witnesses and the expert in the same quiet manner, and with the same assurance that he was doing something useful and important.
The witnesses having been sworn, all but Kitaeva, the keeper of the house, were led out again. She was asked what she knew about this affair. Kitaeva nodded her head and the big hat at every sentence and smiled affectedly. She gave a very full and intelligent account, speaking with a strong German accent. First of all, the hotel servant Simeon, whom she knew, came to her establishment on behalf of a rich Siberian merchant, and she sent Lubov back with him. After a time Lubov returned with the merchant. The merchant was already somewhat intoxicated — she smiled as she said this — and went on drinking and treating the girls. He was short of money. He sent this same Lubov to his lodgings. He had taken a “predilection” to her. She looked at the prisoner as she said this.
Nekhludoff thought he saw Maslova smile here, and this seemed disgusting to him. A strange, indefinite feeling of loathing, mingled with suffering, arose in him.
“And what was your opinion of Maslova?” asked the blushing and confused applicant for a judicial post, appointed to act as Maslova’s advocate.
“Zee ferry pesht,” answered Kitaeva. “Zee yoong voman is etucated and elecant. She was prought up in a coot family and can reat French. She tid have a trop too moch sometimes, put nefer forcot herself. A ferry coot girl.”
Katusha looked at the woman, then suddenly turned her eyes on the jury and fixed them on Nekhludoff, and her face grew serious and even severe. One of her serious eyes squinted, and those two strange eyes for some time gazed at Nekhludoff, who, in spite of the terrors that seized him, could not take his look off these squinting eyes, with their bright, clear whites.
He thought of that dreadful night, with its mist, the ice breaking on the river below, and when the waning moon, with horns turned upwards, that had risen towards morning, lit up something black and weird. These two black eyes now looking at him reminded him of this weird, black something. “She has recognised me,” he thought, and Nekhludoff shrank as if expecting a blow. But she had not recognised him. She sighed quietly and again looked at the president. Nekhludoff also sighed. “Oh, if it would only get on quicker,” he thought.
He now felt the same loathing and pity and vexation as when, out shooting, he was obliged to kill a wounded bird. The wounded bird struggles in the game bag. One is disgusted and yet feels pity, and one is in a hurry to kill the bird and forget it.
Such mixed feelings filled Nekhludoff’s breast as he sat listening to the examination of the witnesses.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:55