The Horse-Stealers and Other Stories HTML version

Gone Astray
A COUNTRY village wrapped in the darkness of night. One o'clock strikes from the
belfry. Two lawyers, called Kozyavkin and Laev, both in the best of spirits and a little
unsteady on their legs, come out of the wood and turn towards the cottages.
"Well, thank God, we've arrived," says Kozyavkin, drawing a deep breath. "Tramping
four miles from the station in our condition is a feat. I am fearfully done up! And, as ill-
luck would have it, not a fly to be seen."
"Petya, my dear fellow. . . . I can't. . . . I feel like dying if I'm not in bed in five minutes."
"In bed! Don't you think it, my boy! First we'll have supper and a glass of red wine, and
then you can go to bed. Verotchka and I will wake you up. . . . Ah, my dear fellow, it's a
fine thing to be married! You don't understand it, you cold-hearted wretch! I shall be
home in a minute, worn out and exhausted. . . . A loving wife will welcome me, give me
some tea and something to eat, and repay me for my hard work and my love with such a
fond and loving look out of her darling black eyes that I shall forget how tired I am, and
forget the burglary and the law courts and the appeal division . . . . It's glorious!"
"Yes--I say, I feel as though my legs were dropping off, I can scarcely get along. . . . I am
frightfully thirsty. . . ."
"Well, here we are at home."
The friends go up to one of the cottages, and stand still under the nearest window.
"It's a jolly cottage," said Kozyavkin. "You will see to-morrow what views we have!
There's no light in the windows. Verotchka must have gone to bed, then; she must have
got tired of sitting up. She's in bed, and must be worrying at my not having turned up."
(He pushes the window with his stick, and it opens.) "Plucky girl! She goes to bed
without bolting the window." (He takes off his cape and flings it with his portfolio in at
the window.) "I am hot! Let us strike up a serenade and make her laugh!" (He sings.)
"The moon floats in the midnight sky. . . . Faintly stir the tender breezes . . . . Faintly
rustle in the treetops. . . . Sing, sing, Alyosha! Verotchka, shall we sing you Schubert's
Serenade?" (He sings.)
His performance is cut short by a sudden fit of coughing. "Tphoo! Verotchka, tell
Aksinya to unlock the gate for us!" (A pause.) "Verotchka! don't be lazy, get up, darling!"
(He stands on a stone and looks in at the window.) "Verotchka, my dumpling; Verotchka,
my poppet . . . my little angel, my wife beyond compare, get up and tell Aksinya to
unlock the gate for us! You are not asleep, you know. Little wife, we are really so done
up and exhausted that we're not in the mood for jokes. We've trudged all the way from
the station! Don't you hear? Ah, hang it all!" (He makes an effort to climb up to the