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CHAPTER XXXV. THE PROCUREUR - NEKHLUDOFF REFUSES TO SERVE.
During an interval Nekhludoff got up and went out into the corridor, with the intention of not returning to the court. Let them do what they liked with him, he could take no more part in this awful and horrid tomfoolery.
Having inquired where the Procureur's cabinet was he went straight to him. The attendant did not wish to let him in, saying that the Procureur was busy, but Nekhludoff paid no heed and went to the door, where he was met by an official. He asked to be announced to the Procureur, saying he was on the jury and had a very important communication to make.
His title and good clothes were of assistance to him. The official announced him to the Procureur, and Nekhludoff was let in. The Procureur met him standing, evidently annoyed at the persistence with which Nekhludoff demanded admittance.
"What is it you want?" the Procureur asked, severely.
"I am on the jury; my name is Nekhludoff, and it is absolutely necessary for me to see the prisoner Maslova," Nekhludoff said, quickly and resolutely, blushing, and feeling that he was taking a step which would have a decisive influence on his life.
The Procureur was a short, dark man, with short, grizzly hair, quick, sparkling eyes, and a thick beard cut close on his projecting lower jaw.
"Maslova? Yes, of course, I know. She was accused of poisoning," the Procureur said, quietly. "But why do you want to see her?" And then, as if wishing to tone down his question, he added, "I cannot give you the permission without knowing why you require it."
"I require it for a particularly important reason."
"Yes?" said the Procureur, and, lifting his eyes, looked attentively at Nekhludoff. "Has her case been heard or not?"
"She was tried yesterday, and unjustly sentenced; she is innocent."
"Yes? If she was sentenced only yesterday," went on the Procureur, paying no attention to Nekhludoff's statement concerning Maslova's innocence, "she must still he in the preliminary detention prison until the sentence is delivered in its final form. Visiting is allowed there only on certain days; I should advise you to inquire there."
"But I must see her as soon as possible," Nekhludoff said, his jaw trembling as he felt the decisive moment approaching.
"Why must you?" said the Procureur, lifting his brows with some agitation.
"Because I betrayed her and brought her to the condition which exposed her to this accusation."
"All the same, I cannot see what it has to do with visiting her."
"This: that whether I succeed or not in getting the sentence changed I want to follow her, and - marry her," said Nekhludoff, touched to tears by his own conduct, and at the same time pleased to see the effect he produced on the Procureur.
"Really! Dear me!" said the Procureur. "This is certainly a very exceptional case. I believe you are a member of the Krasnoporsk rural administration?" he asked, as if he remembered having heard before of this Nekhludoff, who was now making so strange a declaration.
"I beg your pardon, but I do not think that has anything to do with my request," answered Nekhludoff, flushing angrily.
"Certainly not," said the Procureur, with a scarcely perceptible smile and not in the least abashed; "only your wish is so extraordinary and so out of the common."
"Well; but can I get the permission?"
"The permission? Yes, I will give you an order of admittance directly. Take a seat."
He went up to the table, sat down, and began to write. "Please sit down."
Nekhludoff continued to stand.
Having written an order of admittance, and handed it to Nekhludoff, the Procureur looked curiously at him.
"I must also state that I can no longer take part in the sessions."
"Then you will have to lay valid reasons before the Court, as you, of course, know."
"My reasons are that I consider all judging not only useless, but immoral."
"Yes," said the Procureur, with the same scarcely perceptible smile, as if to show that this kind of declaration was well known to him and belonged to the amusing sort. "Yes, but you will certainly understand that I as Procureur, can not agree with you on this point. Therefore, I should advise you to apply to the Court, which will consider your declaration, and find it valid or not valid, and in the latter case will impose a fine. Apply, then, to the Court."
"I have made my declaration, and shall apply nowhere else," Nekhludoff said, angrily.
"Well, then, good-afternoon," said the Procureur, bowing his head, evidently anxious to be rid of this strange visitor.
"Who was that you had here?" asked one of the members of the Court, as he entered, just after Nekhludoff left the room.
"Nekhludoff, you know; the same that used to make all sorts of strange statements at the Krasnoporsk rural meetings. Just fancy! He is on the jury, and among the prisoners there is a woman or girl sentenced to penal servitude, whom he says he betrayed, and now he wants to marry her."
"You don't mean to say so."
"That's what he told me. And in such a strange state of excitement!"
"There is something abnormal in the young men of to-day."
"Oh, but he is not so very young."
"Yes. But how tiresome your famous Ivoshenka was. He carries the day by wearying one out. He talked and talked without end."
"Oh, that kind of people should be simply stopped, or they will become real obstructionists."
Turn to the next chapter: CHAPTER XXXVI. NEKHLUDOFF ENDEAVOURS TO VISIT MASLOVA.