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CHAPTER XXXVI. NEKHLUDOFF ENDEAVOURS TO VISIT MASLOVA.
From the Procureur Nekhludoff went straight to the preliminary detention prison. However, no Maslova was to be found there, and the inspector explained to Nekhludoff that she would probably be in the old temporary prison. Nekhludoff went there.
Yes, Katerina Maslova was there.
The distance between the two prisons was enormous, and Nekhludoff only reached the old prison towards evening. He was going up to the door of the large, gloomy building, but the sentinel stopped him and rang. A warder came in answer to the bell. Nekhludoff showed him his order of admittance, but the warder said he could not let him in without the inspector's permission. Nekhludoff went to see the inspector. As he was going up the stairs he heard distant sounds of some complicated bravura, played on the piano. When a cross servant girl, with a bandaged eye, opened the door to him, those sounds seemed to escape from the room and to strike his car. It was a rhapsody of Liszt's, that everybody was tired of, splendidly played but only to one point. When that point was reached the same thing was repeated. Nekhludoff asked the bandaged maid whether the inspector was in. She answered that he was not in.
"Will he return soon?"
The rhapsody again stopped and recommenced loudly and brilliantly again up to the same charmed point.
"I will go and ask," and the servant went away.
"Tell him he is not in and won't be to-day; he is out visiting. What do they come bothering for?" came the sound of a woman's voice from behind the door, and again the rhapsody rattled on and stopped, and the sound of a chair pushed back was heard. It was plain the irritated pianist meant to rebuke the tiresome visitor, who had come at an untimely hour. "Papa is not in," a pale girl with crimped hair said, crossly, coming out into the ante-room, but, seeing a young man in a good coat, she softened.
"Come in, please. . . . What is it you want?"
"I want to see a prisoner in this prison."
"A political one, I suppose?"
"No, not a political one. I have a permission from the Procureur."
"Well, I don't know, and papa is out; but come in, please," she said, again, "or else speak to the assistant. He is in the office at present; apply there. What is your name?"
"I thank you," said Nekhludoff, without answering her question, and went out.
The door was not yet closed after him when the same lively tones recommenced. In the courtyard Nekhludoff met an officer with bristly moustaches, and asked for the assistant-inspector. It was the assistant himself. He looked at the order of admittance, but said that he could not decide to let him in with a pass for the preliminary prison. Besides, it was too late. "Please to come again to-morrow. To morrow, at 10, everybody is allowed to go in. Come then, and the inspector himself will be at home. Then you can have the interview either in the common room or, if the inspector allows it, in the office."
And so Nekhludoff did not succeed in getting an interview that day, and returned home. As he went along the streets, excited at the idea of meeting her, he no longer thought about the Law Courts, but recalled his conversations with the Procureur and the inspector's assistant. The fact that he had been seeking an interview with her, and had told the Procureur, and had been in two prisons, so excited him that it was long before he could calm down. When he got home he at once fetched out his diary, that had long remained untouched, read a few sentences out of it, and then wrote as follows:
"For two years I have not written anything in my diary, and thought I never should return to this childishness. Yet it is not childishness, but converse with my own self, with this real divine self which lives in every man. All this time that I slept there was no one for me to converse with. I was awakened by an extraordinary event on the 28th of April, in the Law Court, when I was on the jury. I saw her in the prisoners' dock, the Katusha betrayed by me, in a prisoner's cloak, condemned to penal servitude through a strange mistake, and my own fault. I have just been to the Procureur's and to the prison, but I was not admitted. I have resolved to do all I can to see her, to confess to her, and to atone for my sin, even by a marriage. God help me. My soul is at peace and I am full of joy."
Turn to the next chapter: CHAPTER XXXVII. MASLOVA RECALLS THE PAST.