IN the city of Vladímir lived a young merchantnamed Iván Dmítritch Aksyónof. He had actually two shops and also a home of his own.

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Aksyónof to be a handsome, fair-haired, curly-headedfellow, full of fun, and very fond that singing. When quite a young guy he hadbeen provided to drink, and was riotous when he had actually had too much, yet after hemarried he gave up drinking, except now and also then.

One summer Aksyónof to be going to the Nízhny Fair,and together he bade good-bye come his family members his wife stated to him, "Iván Dmítritch,do not begin to-day; i have had actually a negative dream about you."

Aksyónof laughed, and also said, "You are afraid thatwhen I acquire to the fair ns shall walk on the spree."

His mam replied: "I perform not understand what ns am afraidof; all I know is that I had a bad dream. Ns dreamt you went back from the town,and once you take it off your cap I experienced that your hair was quite grey."

Aksyónof laughed. "That"s a happy sign," stated he."See if i don"t sell out all my goods, and also bring you some presents from thefair."

So he said good-bye come his family, and also drove away.

When he had actually travelled half-way, the met a merchantwhom the knew, and also they put up in ~ the same inn because that the night. They had actually some teatogether, and also then saw bed in adjoining rooms.

It was not Aksyónof"s habit to sleep late, and,wishing to travel while it to be still cool, that aroused his driver prior to dawn,and told that to put in the horses. Then he do his way across to the landlordof the inn (who stayed in a cottage in ~ the back), payment his bill, and also continuedhis journey.

When he had actually gone around twenty-five miles, he stoppedfor the equines to be fed. Aksyónof rest awhile in the passage of the inn,then the stepped out into the porch and, notified a samovár<1> to be heated gotout his guitar and also began come play.

Suddenly a tróyka<2> drive up with tinkling bells,and an main alighted, followed by 2 soldiers. He involved Aksyónof andbegan to question him, questioning him that he was and whence the came. Aksyónofanswered the fully, and also said, "Won"t you have some tea through me?" yet theofficial go on cross-questioning him and asking him, "Where walk you invest lastnight? to be you alone, or with a fellow-merchant? go you check out the various other merchantthis morning? Why go you leave the inn before dawn?"

Aksyónof wonder why he was asked all thesequestions, but he described all that had happened, and then added, "Why do youcross-question me as if i were a thief or a robber? ns am travelling on businessof mine own, and there is no should question me."

Then the official, calling the soldiers, said, "I amthe police-officer of this district, and also I question you due to the fact that the merchantwith whom you spent last night has actually been found with his neck cut. We mustsearch your things."

They entered the house. The soldiers and thepolice-officer unstrapped Aksyónof"s luggage and searched it. Unexpectedly theofficer drew a knife the end of a bag, crying, "Whose knife is this?"

Aksyónof looked, and also seeing a blood-stained knifetaken from his bag, he to be frightened.

"How is it over there is blood top top this knife?"

Aksyónof tried come answer, but could solid utter aword, and also only stammered: "I -- i don"t know -- not mine."

Then the police-officer said, "This morning themerchant was discovered in bed v his neck cut. You room the only human being who couldhave excellent it. The home was locked indigenous inside, and no one else was there. Hereis this bloodstained knife in her bag, and your face and also manner betray you!Tell me exactly how you eliminated him, and how much money you stole?"

Aksyónof swore he had actually not excellent it; the he had notseen the seller after they had had tea together; the he had no money excepteight thousand roubles<3> that his own, and also that the knife was no his. But hisvoice was broken, his challenge pale, and also he trembled with fear as though he wereguilty.

The police-officer ordered the soldiers come bindAksyónof and also to placed him in the cart. As they tied his feet together and flunghim right into the cart, Aksyónof overcome himself and wept. His money and goods weretaken native him, and also he was sent out to the nearest town and also imprisoned there.Enquiries regarding his character to be made in Vladímir. The merchants and also otherinhabitants of the town claimed that in previous days he offered to drink and waste histime, however that he to be a good man. Climate the trial came on: he was charged withmurdering a vendor from Ryazán, and robbing the of twenty thousands roubles.

His wife remained in despair, and did not recognize what tobelieve. Her children were all rather small; one was a infant at her breast. Takingthem all with her, she checked out the town whereby her husband remained in gaol. At firstshe was not permitted to check out him; but, after much begging, she acquired permissionfrom the officials, and was taken to him. When she witnessed her husband inprison-dress and also in chains, close up door up with thieves and also criminals, she fell down,and go not involved her senses for a lengthy time. Climate she drew her kids toher, and sat down near him. She told that of things at home, and asked about whathad happened to him. The told she all, and also she asked, "What can we execute now?"

"We have to petition the Tsar not to let an innocentman perish."

His wife told him the she had actually sent a petition tothe Tsar, however that it had not been accepted.

Aksyónof did no reply, yet only looked downcast.

Then his mam said, "It was no for nothing ns dreamtyour hair had actually turned grey. You remember? You have to not have actually started the day."And passing she fingers through his hair, she said: "Ványa dearest, call yourwife the truth; was it not you who did it?"

"So you, too, doubt me!" claimed Aksyónof, andhiding his face in his hands, he began to weep. Then a soldier concerned say thatthe wife and also children must go away; and also Aksyónof said good-bye to his familyfor the critical time.

When they to be gone, Aksyónof recalled what hadbeen said, and when he remembered the his wife likewise had doubt him, that saidto himself, "It appears that just God deserve to know the truth, it is to Him alone wemust appeal, and from the alone suppose mercy."

And Aksyónof created no more petitions; gave up allhope, and only prayed come God.

Aksyónof was condemned to be flogged and also sent tothe mines. So he was flogged with a knout, and also when the wounds make by the knoutwere healed, the was pushed to Siberia with various other convicts.

For twenty-six years Aksyónof live as a judge inSiberia. His hair turn white together snow and also his beard prospered long, thin, and grey.All his mirth went; he stooped; that walked slowly, spoke little, and also neverlaughed, yet he often prayed.

In prison Aksyónof learnt to do boots, and also earneda tiny money, with which that bought The resides of the Saints. He read this bookwhen there to be light sufficient in the prison; and on Sundays in the prison-churchhe review the lessons and also sang in the choir; for his voice was still good.

The jail authorities preferred Aksyónof because that hismeekness, and also his fellow-prisoners respected him: they called him "Grandfather,"and "The Saint." once they wanted to petition the prison authorities aboutanything, they constantly made Aksyónof your spokesman, and when there werequarrels among the detainees they came to him to placed things right, and also to judgethe matter.

No news got to Aksyónof from his home, and he didnot also know if his wife and children to be still alive.

One job a fresh corridor of convicts came to the prison.In the night the old prisoners collected round the brand-new ones and asked themwhat communities or towns they come from, and what they were sentenced for. Amongthe remainder Aksyónof satellite down near the new-comers, and also listened through downcast airto what to be said.

One that the new convicts, a tall, strong man ofsixty, with a closely-cropped grey beard, was informing the rather what that hadbeen arrested for.

"Well, friends," that said, "I only took a horse thatwas tied come a sledge, and also I to be arrested and accused that stealing. I said I hadonly taken the to acquire home quicker, and also had then let that go; besides, the driverwas a personal friend that mine. So ns said, "It"s all right.""No," stated they, "you stole it." but how or where I stole itthey might not say. I once really walk something wrong, and also ought by civil liberties tohave come below long ago, however that time i was not found out. Currently I have been senthere for nothing in ~ all. . . . Eh, but it"s lies I"m telling you; I"ve been toSiberia before, however I go not continue to be long."

"Where room you from?" asked some one.

"From Vladímir. My family are of that town. Mine nameis Makár, and they additionally call me Semyónitch."

Aksyónof elevated his head and said: "Tell me,Semyónitch, do you recognize anything the the merchants Aksyónof, of Vladímir? Arethey quiet alive?"

"Know them? the course ns do. The Aksyónofs space rich,though their father is in Siberia: a sinner like ourselves, it seems! together foryou, Gran"dad, just how did you come here?"

Aksyónof did not favor to speak that his misfortune.He just sighed, and said, "For my sins ns have remained in prison this twenty-sixyears."

"What sins?" request Makár Semyónitch.

But Aksyónof just said, "Well, well -- I have to havedeserved it!" he would have actually said no more, but his companions said the new-comerhow Aksyónof came to be in Siberia: just how some one had killed a vendor and hadput a knife amongst Aksyónof"s things, and also Aksyónof had been unjustly condemned.

When Makár Semyónitch heard this, the looked atAksyónof, slapped his very own knee, and also exclaimed, "Well this is wonderful! Reallywonderful! yet how old you"ve grown, Gran"dad!"

The rather asked the why he was so surprised, andwhere he had actually seen Aksyónof before; however Makár Semyónitch did no reply. Heonly said: "It"s wonderful that we should satisfy here, lads!"

These words make Aksyónof wonder even if it is this manknew who had killed the merchant; for this reason he claimed "Perhaps, Semyónitch, friend haveheard of the affair or possibly you"ve viewed me before?"

"How could I aid hearing? The world"s full ofrumours. Yet it"s long ago, and I"ve forgotten what ns heard."

"Perhaps friend heard who eliminated the merchant?" request Aksyónof.

Makár Semyónitch laughed, and also replied, "It musthave to be him in whose bag the knife was found! If some one rather hid the knifethere, "He"s no a theif till he"s caught," together the saying is. Howcould any kind of one placed a knife into your bag while it was under her head? that wouldsurely have woke girlfriend up?"

When Aksyónof heard these words, that felt sure thiswas the guy who had actually killed the merchant. The rose and went away. All the nightAksyónof put awake.

He feeling terribly unhappy, and all kinds of imagesrose in his mind. There to be the photo of his mam as she was as soon as he parted fromher to go to the fair. He experienced her together if she to be present; her face and her eyesrose before him; he heard she speak and laugh. Climate he witnessed his children, quitelittle, as they to be at that time: one v a tiny cloak on, one more at hismother"s breast. And also then that remembered himself together he offered to be -- young andmerry. The remembered how he sat playing the guitar in the porch of the inn wherehe was arrested, and also how complimentary from treatment he had actually been. He saw, in his mind, theplace wherein he to be flogged, the executioner, and also the people standing around; thechains, the convicts, every the twenty-six year of his jail life, and hispremature old age. The assumed of it every made that so wretched that he to be readyto kill himself.

"And it"s all the villain"s doing!" thoughtAksyónof. And also his anger to be so good against Makár Semyónitch the he longedfor vengeance, also if that himself have to perish for it. He kept repeatingprayers every night, yet could acquire no peace. During the work he did not go nearMakár Semyónitch, nor even look in ~ him.

A fortnight happen in this way. Aksyónof can notsleep in ~ nights, and also was for this reason miserable that he go not understand what come do.

One night as he to be walking around the jail henoticed some earth that came rolling the end from under among the shelves top top whichthe prisoners slept. He quit to check out what that was. All of sudden Makár Semyónitchcrept the end from under the shelf, and also looked up at Aksyónof with frightened face.Aksyónof make the efforts to happen without looking at him, but Makár seized his hand andtold him that he had actually dug a hole under the wall, obtaining rid of the earth byputting it into his high-boots, and also emptying it the end every job on the road whenthe detainees were pushed to your work.

"Just you save quiet, old man, and you shall get outtoo. If girlfriend blab they"ll flog the life out of me, but I will kill you first."

Aksyónof trembled v anger as he looked at hisenemy. He attracted his hand away, saying, "I have actually no great to escape, and also you have noneed to death me; you eliminated me lengthy ago! regarding telling of you -- I might do therefore ornot, together God chandelier direct." next day, as soon as the convicts to be led out to work, theconvoy soldiers noticed that one or various other of the prisoners emptied some earthout the his boots. The jail was searched, and also the tunnel found. The Governorcame and also questioned all the detainees to uncover out who had actually dug the hole. Lock alldenied any kind of knowledge the it. Those who knew, would not betray Makár Semyónitch,knowing he would certainly be flogged practically to death. At last the branch turned toAksyónof, who he knew to it is in a just man, and also said:

"You are a truthful old man; tell me, before God,who dug the hole?"

Makár Semyónitch stood as if he were quiteunconcerned, looking in ~ the Governor and not so lot as glancing in ~ Aksyónof.Aksyónof"s lips and also hands trembled, and for a lengthy time he might not utter aword. The thought, "Why have to I screen him who ruined my life? allow him pay forwhat I have actually suffered. Yet if ns tell, they will most likely flog the life the end of himand possibly I doubt him wrongly. And, after all, what an excellent would it be to me?"

"Well, old man," repeated the Governor, "tell us thetruth: who has been digging under the wall?"

Aksyónof glanced at Makár Semyónitch, and said "Icannot say, her honour. That is no God"s will certainly that I need to tell! do what youlike with me; ns am in her hands."

However much the branch tried, Aksyónof would certainly sayno more, and also so the matter had actually to be left.

That night, when Aksyónof to be lying on his bed andjust beginning to doze, some one came quietly and sat down on his bed. He peeredthrough the darkness and recognized Makár.

"What more do you desire of me?" request Aksyónof. "Whyhave friend come here?"

Makár Semyónitch to be silent. For this reason Aksyónof satellite upand said, "What perform you want? walk away, or ns will contact the guard!"

Makár Semyónitch bent close over Aksyónof, andwhispered, "Iván Dmítritch, forgive me!"

"What for?" inquiry Aksyónof.

"It was ns who killed the vendor and hid the knifeamong your things. I supposed to death you too, yet I heard a noise outside; so Ihid the knife in her bag and escaped the end of the window."

Aksyónof was silent, and did not recognize what come say.Makár Semyónitch slide off the bed-shelf and also knelt ~ above the ground. "IvánDmítritch," said he, "forgive me! for the love the God, pardon me! i willconfess the it was ns who killed the merchant, and also you will be released and also cango to her home."

"It is straightforward for you come talk," claimed Aksyónof, "but Ihave suffered for you these twenty-six years. Where could I walk to now? . . . Mywife is dead, and my youngsters have forget me. I have nowhere to go. . . ."

Makár Semyónitch did no rise, however beat his headon the floor. "Iván Dmítritch, pardon me!" he cried. "When castle flogged mewith the knout that was not so tough to bear as it is to check out you now . . . However youhad pity on me, and also did no tell. For Christ"s sake forgive me, wretch the Iam!" and he began to sob.

When Aksyónof heard him sobbing he, too, began toweep.

"God will certainly forgive you!" claimed he. "Maybe ns am ahundred time worse 보다 you." and at these words his heart prospered light, and thelonging for house left him. He no much longer had any type of desire to leave the prison, butonly hoped because that his critical hour come come.

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In spite of what Aksyónof had actually said, MakerSemyónitch confessed his guilt. But when the order for his relax came,Aksyónof was already dead.