It was getting dusk. Ivan Dmitritch was lying on his bed with
his face thrust unto his pillow; the paralytic was sitting
motionless, crying quietly and moving his lips. The fat peasant
and the former sorter were asleep. It was quiet.
Andrey Yefimitch sat down on Ivan Dmitritch's bed and waited.
But half an hour passed, and instead of Hobotov, Nikita came
into the ward with a dressing-gown, some underlinen, and a pair
of slippers in a heap on his arm.
"Please change your things, your honour," he said softly. "Here
is your bed; come this way," he added, pointing to an empty
bedstead which had obviously recently been brought into the
ward. "It's all right; please God, you will recover."
Andrey Yefimitch understood it all. Without saying a word he
crossed to the bed to which Nikita pointed and sat down; seeing
that Nikita was standing waiting, he undressed entirely and he
felt ashamed. Then he put on the hospital clothes; the drawers
were very short, the shirt was long, and the dressing-gown smelt
of smoked fish.
"Please God, you will recover," repeated Nikita, and he gathered
up Andrey Yefimitch's clothes into his arms, went out, and shut
the door after him.
"No matter. . ." thought Andrey Yefimitch, wrapping himself in
his dressing-gown in a shamefaced way and feeling that he looked
like a convict in his new costume. "It's no matter. . . . It
does not matter whether it's a dress-coat or a uniform or this
But how about his watch? And the notebook that was in the
side-pocket? And his cigarettes? Where had Nikita taken his
clothes? Now perhaps to the day of his death he would not put on
trousers, a waistcoat, and high boots. It was all somehow
strange and even incomprehensible at first. Andrey Yefimitch was
even now convinced that there was no difference between his
landlady's house and Ward No. 6, that everything in this world
was nonsense and vanity of vanities. And yet his hands were
trembling, his feet were cold, and he was filled with dread at
the thought that soon Ivan Dmitritch would get up and see that
he was in a dressing-gown. He got up and walked across the room
and sat down again.
Here he had been sitting already half an hour, an hour, and he
was miserably sick of it: was it really possible to live here a
day, a week, and even years like these people? Why, he had been
sitting here, had walked about and sat down again; he could get
up and look out of window and walk from corner to corner again,
and then what? Sit so all the time, like a post, and think? No,
that was scarcely possible.
Andrey Yefimitch lay down, but at once got up, wiped the cold
sweat from his brow with his sleeve and felt that his whole face
smelt of smoked fish. He walked about again.
"It's some misunderstanding. . ." he said, turning out the palms
of his hands in perplexity. "It must be cleared up. There is a
Meanwhile Ivan Dmitritch woke up; he sat up and propped his
cheeks on his fists. He spat. Then he glanced lazily at the
doctor, and apparently for the first minute did not understand;
but soon his sleepy face grew malicious and mocking.
"Aha! so they have put you in here, too, old fellow?" he said in
a voice husky from sleepiness, screwing up one eye. "Very glad
to see you. You sucked the blood of others, and now they will
suck yours. Excellent!"
"It's a misunderstanding . . ." Andrey Yefimitch brought out,
frightened by Ivan Dmitritch's words; he shrugged his shoulders
and repeated: "It's some misunderstanding."
Ivan Dmitritch spat again and lay down.
"Cursed life," he grumbled, "and what's bitter and insulting,
this life will not end in compensation for our sufferings, it
will not end with apotheosis as it would in an opera, but with
death; peasants will come and drag one's dead body by the arms
and the legs to the cellar. Ugh! Well, it does not matter. . . .
We shall have our good time in the other world. . . . I shall
come here as a ghost from the other world and frighten these
reptiles. I'll turn their hair grey."
Moiseika returned, and, seeing the doctor, held out his hand.
"Give me one little kopeck," he said.