Maslova reached her cell only at six in the evening, tired and footsore, having, unaccustomed as she was to walking, gone 10 miles on the stony road that day. She was crushed by the unexpectedly severe sentence and tormented by hunger. During the first interval of her trial, when the soldiers were eating bread and hard-boiled eggs in her presence, her mouth watered and she realised she was hungry, but considered it beneath her dignity to beg of them. Three hours later the desire to eat had passed, and she felt only weak. It was then she received the unexpected sentence. At first she thought she had made a mistake; she could not imagine herself as a convict in Siberia, and could not believe what she heard. But seeing the quiet, business-like faces of judges and jury, who heard this news as if it were perfectly natural and expected, she grew indignant, and proclaimed loudly to the whole Court that she was not guilty. Finding that her cry was also taken as something natural and expected, and feeling incapable of altering matters, she was horror-struck and began to weep in despair, knowing that she must submit to the cruel and surprising injustice that had been done her. What astonished her most was that young men — or, at any rate, not old men — the same men who always looked so approvingly at her (one of them, the public prosecutor, she had seen in quite a different humour) had condemned her. While she was sitting in the prisoners’ room before the trial and during the intervals, she saw these men looking in at the open door pretending they had to pass there on some business, or enter the room and gaze on her with approval. And then, for some unknown reason, these same men had condemned her to hard labour, though she was innocent of the charge laid against her. At first she cried, but then quieted down and sat perfectly stunned in the prisoners’ room, waiting to be led back. She wanted only two things now — tobacco and strong drink. In this state Botchkova and Kartinkin found her when they were led into the same room after being sentenced. Botchkova began at once to scold her, and call her a “convict.”
“Well! What have you gained? justified yourself, have you? What you have deserved, that you’ve got. Out in Siberia you’ll give up your finery, no fear!”
Maslova sat with her hands inside her sleeves, hanging her head and looking in front of her at the dirty floor without moving, only saying: “I don’t bother you, so don’t you bother me. I don’t bother you, do I?” she repeated this several times, and was silent again. She did brighten up a little when Botchkova and Kartinkin were led away and an attendant brought her three roubles.
“Are you Maslova?” he asked. “Here you are; a lady sent it you,” he said, giving her the money.
“A lady — what lady?”
“You just take it. I’m not going to talk to you.”
This money was sent by Kitaeva, the keeper of the house in which she used to live. As she was leaving the court she turned to the usher with the question whether she might give Maslova a little money. The usher said she might. Having got permission, she removed the three-buttoned Swedish kid glove from her plump, white hand, and from an elegant purse brought from the back folds of her silk skirt took a pile of coupons, [in Russia coupons cut off interest-bearing papers are often used as money] just cut off from the interest-bearing papers which she had earned in her establishment, chose one worth 2 roubles and 50 copecks, added two 20 and one 10-copeck coins, and gave all this to the usher. The usher called an attendant, and in his presence gave the money.
“Belease to giff it accurately,” said Carolina Albertovna Kitaeva.
The attendant was hurt by her want of confidence, and that was why he treated Maslova so brusquely. Maslova was glad of the money, because it could give her the only thing she now desired. “If I could but get cigarettes and take a whiff!” she said to herself, and all her thoughts centred on the one desire to smoke and drink. She longed for spirits so that she tasted them and felt the strength they would give her; and she greedily breathed in the air when the fumes of tobacco reached her from the door of a room that opened into the corridor. But she had to wait long, for the secretary, who should have given the order for her to go, forgot about the prisoners while talking and even disputing with one of the advocates about the article forbidden by the censor.
At last, about five o’clock, she was allowed to go, and was led away through the back door by her escort, the Nijni man and the Tchoovash. Then, still within the entrance to the Law Courts, she gave them 50 copecks, asking them to get her two rolls and some cigarettes. The Tchoovash laughed, took the money, and said, “All right; I’ll get ’em,” and really got her the rolls and the cigarettes and honestly returned the change. She was not allowed to smoke on the way, and, with her craving unsatisfied, she continued her way to the prison. When she was brought to the gate of the prison, a hundred convicts who had arrived by rail were being led in. The convicts, bearded, clean-shaven, old, young, Russians, foreigners, some with their heads shaved and rattling with the chains on their feet, filled the anteroom with dust, noise and an acid smell of perspiration. Passing Maslova, all the convicts looked at her, and some came up to her and brushed her as they passed.
“Ay, here’s a wench — a fine one,” said one.
“My respects to you, miss,” said another, winking at her. One dark man with a moustache, the rest of his face and the back of his head clean shaved, rattling with his chains and catching her feet in them, sprang near and embraced her.
“What! don’t you know your chum? Come, come; don’t give yourself airs,” showing his teeth and his eyes glittering when she pushed him away.
“You rascal! what are you up to?” shouted the inspector’s assistant, coming in from behind. The convict shrank back and jumped away. The assistant assailed Maslova.
“What are you here for?”
Maslova was going to say she had been brought back from the Law Courts, but she was so tired that she did not care to speak.
“She has returned from the Law Courts, sir,” said one of the soldiers, coming forward with his fingers lifted to his cap.
“Well, hand her over to the chief warder. I won’t have this sort of thing.”
“Sokoloff, take her in!” shouted the assistant inspector.
The chief warder came up, gave Maslova a slap on the shoulder, and making a sign with his head for her to follow led her into the corridor of the women’s ward. There she was searched, and as nothing prohibited was found on her (she had hidden her box of cigarettes inside a roll) she was led to the cell she had left in the morning.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00