M. Ye. Saltykov-Shchedrin
Russia, the middle of the XIX century. Serfdom is already running out. However, the family of the Golovlevs’ landowners is still quite prosperous and is increasingly expanding the boundaries of its already vast estates. Merit in that entirely belongs to the owner – Arina Petrovna Golovleva. She is an adamant woman, obstinate, independent, accustomed to the complete absence of any opposition. The husband of Arina Petrovna, Vladimir Mikhailovich Golovlyov, as a young man was careless and idle, he remained. His life he spends on composing rhymes in the spirit of Barkov, imitation of the singing of birds, secret drunkenness and waiting for yard girls. That’s why Arina Petrovna focused her attention solely on business matters. Children, for whom it seemed like all enterprises were going on, were, in fact, a burden. There were four children: three sons and a daughter.
The eldest son, Stepan Vladimirovich, was known in the family as Styopka the dunce and Styopka the mischievous. From his father he adopted inexhaustible lecherousness, from his mother – the ability to quickly guess the weaknesses of people; These talents were used for mimicking and other buffoonery, for which he was mercilessly beat by his mother. Entering the university, he did not feel the slightest urge to work, and instead became a jester among the wealthy students, thanks to which, however, he did not starve to death with the scanty
Daughter, Anna Vladimirovna, also did not live up to her mama’s expectations: Arina Petrovna sent her to the institute in a cup of fare to make her a gift-keeping home secretary and accountant, and Annushka ran off with a cornet and got married one night. Her mother “threw a piece” in the form of a stunted village and capitalist, but a year or two later the young capital lived and fled the cobweb, leaving his wife with her twin daughters, Anninka and Lubinka. Then Anna Vladimirovna died, and therefore Arina Petrovna was forced to shelter orphans. However, these sad events indirectly contributed to the rounding of the estate, reducing the number of shareholders.
The average son, Porfiry Vladimirovich, even in his childhood received from Styopka-dunce the nicknames of Judas and Krovopivushki. From infancy he was unusually affectionate, and also liked to lightly ponushhnichat. To his ingratiating, Arina Petrovna was apprehensive, remembering how, before the birth of Porfishi, the elder-seer mumbled: “The rooster screams, the hen is threatened, the hen-kudah-tah-tah, but it will be too late!” – but the best piece always gave to the tender son in view of his devotion.
The younger brother, Pavel Vladimirovich, was the most complete personification of a man deprived of any action whatsoever. Maybe he was kind, but he did not do good; maybe he was not stupid, but he did not do anything clever. Since childhood he has remained gloomy and apathetic, in his thoughts experiencing fantastic events that are not known to anyone around.
In the family court over Stepan Vladimirovich Palenys refused to participate, predicting his son only that the witch “will eat it!”; younger brother Pavel said that his opinions still will not listen, and so we know that Stepan “is to blame for the pieces…”. With such lack of resistance, Porfiry Vladimirovich persuaded his mother to leave Stepka-dunce under supervision in Golovlyov, having previously requested a paper from him with a refusal of hereditary claims. So the dunce stayed in the parental home, in a dirty dark room, on a meager (just do not die) stern, coughing on the tube of cheap tobacco and sipping from the damask. He tried to ask that they sent him boots and a sheepskin coat, but in vain. The external world ceased to exist for him; no conversations, deeds, impressions, desires, except how to get drunk and forget… The yearning, disgust, hatred consumed him until they went into the deep mists of despair, as if the lid of a coffin had slammed shut. In the gray December morning, Stepan Vladimirovich was found dead in the bed.
Ten years passed. The abolition of serfdom, coupled with the preparations that preceded it, dealt a terrible blow to the power of Arina Petrovna. The rumors exhausted the imagination and aroused fear: how could Agashka Agafya Fedorovna call it? Than to feed a horde of former serfs – or to release them on all four sides? And how to release, if upbringing does not allow you to submit, accept, or prepare for yourself? In the midst of the bustle, Vladimir Mikhaylovich Golovlyov quietly and humbly died, thanks to God, that he did not allow himself to appear in front of his face, along with serfs. Despondency and confusion were seized by Arina Petrovna, which Porphyry used with sly, truly Judas’s dexterity. Arina Petrovna divided the estate, leaving only the capital, with the best part allocated to Porphyry, and worse – to Pavel.
Pavel Vladimirovich undertook to water-feed his mother and nieces, but forbade interfering in his orders and visiting him. The estate was plundered before our eyes, and Pavel alone drank, finding comfort in the child of drunken fantasies, giving the victorious way out of his heavy hatred for the blood-sucking brother. So he found his death ailment, not having given time and considerations for a testament in favor of orphans or mama. Therefore, the estate of Paul went to the hated Porfishka-Judas, and her mother and nieces left for the village, once “thrown” by Arina Petrovna’s daughter; Judas led them with affection, inviting them to visit their relatives!
However, Lyubinka and Anninka quickly yearned for the desperate silence of a beggar. After a few stitches in favor of my grandmother, the young ladies left. Unable to endure the emptiness of helpless loneliness and dull idleness, Arina Petrovna returned to Golovlyovo.
Now the family results are as follows: only dowager owner Porfiry Vladimirovich, mamma and diachkova daughter Evprakseyushka (unauthorized consolation of the widower) inhabit once flourishing estate. The son of Judas Vladimir committed suicide, desperate to get help from his father to feed the family; another son Peter serves in officers. Judas does not recall them, either about the living or the deceased, his life is filled with an endless mass of empty deeds and words. He feels some anxiety, foreseeing the requests of his nieces or his son, but he is sure that no one and nothing will lead him out of a meaningless and useless pastime. So it happened: neither the appearance of the desperate Peter, who lost the state money and prayed to his father for salvation from dishonor and death, nor the terrible maternal “I curse!”, nor even an early death of the mother – nothing changed the existence of Judas. While he was busy and counting the mamenkina’s inheritance, the twilight enveloped his mind ever thicker. It was almost dawn in the shower with the arrival of Anninka’s nephew, a lively feeling seemed to glimpse in his usual idle talk – but Anninka left, fearing life with her uncle more than the fate of the provincial actress, and only the illicit family pleasures with Evprakseyushka remained for Judas.
However, Evprakseyushka is no longer so unrequited as she was. Previously, she needed a little for peace and joy: kvass, apples, soaked in the evening and go to the fool in the evening. The pregnancy lit up Yevprakseyushka with a premonition of attack, at the sight of Judas she was overtaken by an unaccountable fear – and the resolution of the expectation of the birth of her son completely proved the correctness of the instinctive horror; Judas sent the newborn to an educational home, forever separated from his mother. The evil and unconquerable disgust that seized Yevprakseyushka soon reborn into a hatred for the escaped master. The war of petty quibbles, wounds, deliberate mucks began-and only such a war could be crowned with victory over Judas. It was impossible for Porfiry Vladimirovich to think that he himself would have to wear out in his works instead of the usual empty talk. He faded away completely and was completely wild, While Evprakseyushka was pining in the flesh of carnal desire, choosing between the coachman and the clerk. But in his office he dreamed of extorting, ruining, destroying, sucking blood, mentally taking revenge on the living and dead. The whole world, accessible to his meager contemplation, was at his feet…
The final calculation for Judas came with the return to Golovlya of Anninka’s niece: she did not come to live, but to die, coughing faintly and pouring a terrible memory of past humiliations, drunken fury with merchants and officers, about the lost youth, beauty, purity, about the suicide of Lyubinka’s sister who soberly judged that there is no way to live even if there is only shame, poverty and street ahead. On dreary evenings, my uncle and niece drank and remembered about the Hollow’s deaths and injuries, in which Anninka furiously blamed Judas. Anninka’s every word was breathing with such cynical hatred that suddenly a conscience unknown before began to wake up in Judas. And the house, filled with drunken, fornicated, tormented ghosts, contributed to an endless and fruitless mental torment. The terrible truth lit up before Judas: he was already old, He sees only indifference and hatred around; Why did he lie, blaspheme, oppress, skopidomstvoval? The only light point in the future was the thought of self-destruction – but death deceived and teased, but did not go…
By the end of the passionate week, in the March wet snowstorm, at night Porfiry Vladimirovich decided to go and say good-bye to the grave to mama, but not as usual, but to forgive forgiveness, fall to the ground and stiffen in the screams of deadly agony. He slipped out of the house and wandered along the road, feeling neither snow nor wind. Only the next day the news came that the dead body of the last nobleman was found dead, Anninka was lying in a fever and did not regain consciousness, so the horse carried news to her second cousin, who had been following the events in Golovlyovo since last autumn.