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THEQUEENOFSPADES By AlexanderPushkin

TranslatedbyH.Twitchell Copyright,1901,byTheCurrentLiteraturePublishing Company

ATthehouseofNaroumov,acavalryofficer,thelongwinternighthadbeenpassedin gambling.Atfiveinthemorningbreakfastwasservedtothewearyplayers.Thewinners atewithrelishthelosers,onthecontrary,pushedbacktheirplatesandsatbrooding gloomily.Undertheinfluenceofthegoodwine,however,theconversationthenbecame general. "Well,Sourine?"saidthehostinquiringly. "Oh,Ilostasusual.Myluckisabominable.NomatterhowcoolIkeep,Ineverwin." "Howisit,Herman,thatyounevertouchacard?"remarkedoneofthemen,addressinga youngofficeroftheEngineeringCorps."Hereyouarewiththerestofusatfiveo'clock inthemorning,andyouhaveneitherplayednorbetallnight." "Playinterestsmegreatly,"repliedthepersonaddressed,"butIhardlycaretosacrifice thenecessariesoflifeforuncertainsuperfluities." "HermanisaGerman,thereforeeconomicalthatexplainsit,"saidTomsky."Butthe personIcan'tquiteunderstandismygrandmother,theCountessAnnaFedorovna." "Why?"inquiredachorusofvoices. "Ican'tunderstandwhymygrandmothernevergambles." "Idon'tseeanythingverystrikinginthefactthatawomanofeightyrefusestogamble," objectedNaroumov. "Haveyouneverheardherstory?" "No" "Well,then,listentoit.Tobeginwith,sixtyyearsagomygrandmotherwenttoParis, whereshewasallthefashion.Peoplecrowdedeachotherinthestreetstogetachanceto seethe'MuscoviteVenus,'asshewascalled.Allthegreatladiesplayedfaro,then.On oneoccasion,whileplayingwiththeDukeofOrleans,shelostanenormoussum.She toldherhusbandofthedebt,butherefusedoutrighttopayit.Nothingcouldinducehim tochangehismindonthesubject,andgrandmotherwasatherwits'ends.Finally,she rememberedafriendofhers,CountSaintGermain.Youmusthaveheardofhim,as many wonderfulstorieshavebeentoldabouthim.Heissaidtohavediscoveredtheelixir oflife,thephilosopher'sstone,andmanyotherequallymarvelousthings.Hehadmoney athisdisposal,andmygrandmotherknewit.Shesenthimanoteaskinghimtocometo seeher.Heobeyedhersummonsandfoundheringreatdistress.Shepaintedthecruelty ofherhusbandinthedarkestcolors,andendedbytellingtheCountthatshedepended uponhisfriendshipandgenerosity.

"'Icouldlendyouthemoney,'repliedtheCount,afteramomentofthoughtfulness,'butI knowthatyouwouldnotenjoyamoment'srestuntilyouhadreturnedititwouldonly addtoyourembarrassment.Thereisanotherwayoffreeingyourself.' "'ButIhavenomoneyatall,'insistedmygrandmother. "'Thereisnoneedofmoney.Listentome.' "TheCountthentoldherasecretwhichanyofuswouldgiveagooddealtoknow." Theyounggamesterswereallattention.Tomskylithispipe,tookafewwhiffs,then continued: "Thenextevening,grandmotherappearedatVersaillesattheQueen'sgamingtable.The DukeofOrleanswasthedealer.Grandmothermadesomeexcusefornothavingbrought anymoney,andbegantopunt.Shechosethreecardsinsuccession,againandagain, winningeverytime,andwassoonoutofdebt." "Afable,"remarkedHerman"perhapsthecardsweremarked." "Ihardlythinkso,"repliedTomsky,withanairofimportance. "Soyouhaveagrandmotherwhoknowsthreewinningcards,andyouhaven'tfoundout themagicsecret." "ImustsayIhavenot.Shehadfoursons,oneofthembeingmyfather,allofwhomare devotedtoplayshenevertoldthesecrettooneofthem.Butmyuncletoldmethismuch, onhiswordofhonor.Tchaplitzky,whodiedinpovertyafterhavingsquanderedmillions, lostatonetime,atplay,nearlythreehundredthousandrubles.Hewasdesperateand grandmothertookpityonhim.Shetoldhimthethreecards,makinghimswearneverto usethemagain.Hereturnedtothegame,stakedfiftythousandrublesoneachcard,and cameoutahead,afterpayinghisdebts." Asdaywasdawningthepartynowbrokeup,eachonedraininghisglassandtakinghis leave. TheCountessAnnaFedorovnawasseatedbeforehermirrorinherdressingroom.Three womenwereassistingathertoilet.TheoldCountessnolongermadetheslightest pretensionstobeauty,butshestillclungtoallthehabitsofheryouth,andspentasmuch timeathertoiletasshehaddonesixtyyearsbefore.Atthewindowayounggirl,her ward,satatherneedlework. "Goodafternoon,grandmother,"criedayoungofficer,whohadjustenteredtheroom."I havecometoaskafavorofyou." "What,Pavel?"

"Iwanttobeallowedtopresentoneofmyfriendstoyou,andtotakeyoutotheballon Tuesday night." "Takemetotheballandpresenthimtomethere." AfterafewmoreremarkstheofficerwalkeduptothewindowwhereLisavetaIvanovna sat. "Whomdoyouwishtopresent?"askedthegirl. "Naroumovdoyouknowhim?" "Noisheasoldier?" "Yes." "Anengineer?" "Nowhydoyouask?" Thegirlsmiledandmadenoreply. PavelTomskytookhisleave,and,lefttoherself,Lisavetaglancedoutofthewindow. Soon,ayoungofficerappearedatthecornerofthestreetthegirlblushedandbenther headlowoverhercanvas. Thisappearanceoftheofficerhadbecomeadailyoccurrence.Themanwastotally unknowntoher,andasshewasnotaccustomedtocoquettingwiththesoldiersshesaw onthestreet,shehardlyknewhowtoexplainhispresence.Hispersistencefinallyroused aninterestentirelystrangetoher.Oneday,sheevenventuredtosmileuponheradmirer, forsuchheseemedtobe. ThereaderneedhardlybetoldthattheofficerwasnootherthanHerman,thewouldbe gambler,whoseimaginationhadbeenstronglyexcitedbythestorytoldbyTomskyofthe threemagiccards. "Ah,"hethought,"iftheoldCountesswouldonlyrevealthesecrettome.Whynottryto winhergoodwillandappealtohersympathy?" Withthisideainmind,hetookuphisdailystationbeforethehouse,watchingthepretty faceatthewindow,andtrustingtofatetobringaboutthedesiredacquaintance. Oneday,asLisavetawasstandingonthepavementabouttoenterthecarriageafterthe Countess,shefeltherselfjostledandanotewasthrustintoherhand.Turning,shesaw theyoungofficeratherelbow.Asquickasthought,sheputthenoteinhergloveand

enteredthecarriage.Onherreturnfromthedrive,shehastenedtoherchambertoread themissive,inastateofexcitementmingledwithfear.Itwasatenderandrespectful declarationofaffection,copiedwordforwordfromaGermannovel.Ofthisfact,Lisa was,ofcourse,ignorant. Theyounggirlwasmuchimpressedbythemissive,butshefeltthat thewritermustnot beencouraged.Shethereforewroteafewlinesofexplanationand,atthefirst opportunity,droppedit,withtheletter,outofthewindow.Theofficerhastilycrossedthe street,pickedupthepapersandenteredashoptoreadthem. Innowisedauntedbythisrebuff,hefoundtheopportunitytosendheranothernoteina fewdays.Hereceivednoreply,but,evidentlyunderstandingthefemaleheart,he presevered,beggingforaninterview.Hewasrewardedatlastbythefollowing: "Tonightwegototheambassador'sball.Weshallremainuntiltwoo'clock.Ican arrangeforameetinginthisway.Afterourdeparture,theservantswillprobablyallgo out,orgotosleep.Athalfpastelevenenterthevestibuleboldly,andifyouseeanyone, inquirefortheCountessifnot,ascendthestairs,turntotheleftandgoonuntilyoucome toadoor,whichopensintoherbedchamber.Enterthisroomandbehindascreenyouwill findanotherdoorleadingtoacorridorfromthisaspiralstaircaseleadstomysitting room.Ishallexpecttofindyouthereonmyreturn." Hermantrembledlikealeafastheappointedhourdrewnear.Heobeyedinstructions fully,and,ashemetnoone,hereachedtheoldlady'sbedchamberwithoutdifficulty. Insteadofgoingoutofthesmalldoorbehindthescreen,however,heconcealedhimself inaclosettoawaitthereturnoftheoldCountess. Thehoursdraggedslowlybyatlastheheardthesoundofwheels.Immediatelylamps werelightedandservantsbeganmovingabout.Finallytheoldwomantotteredintothe room,completelyexhausted.Herwomenremovedherwrapsandproceededtogetherin readinessforthenight.Hermanwatchedtheproceedingswithacuriositynotunmingled withsuperstitiousfear.Whenatlastshewasattiredincapandgown,theoldwoman lookedlessuncannythanwhensheworeherballdressofbluebrocade. Shesatdowninaneasychairbesideatable,asshewasinthehabitofdoingbefore retiring,andherwomenwithdrew.Astheoldladysatswayingtoandfro,seemingly oblivioustohersurroundings,Hermancreptoutofhishidingplace. Attheslightnoisetheoldwomanopenedhereyes,andgazedattheintruderwithahalf dazedexpression. "Havenofear,Ibegofyou,"saidHerman,inacalmvoice."Ihavenotcometoharm you,buttoaskafavorofyouinstead."

TheCountesslookedathiminsilence,seeminglywithoutcomprehendinghim.Herman thoughtshemightbedeaf,soheputhislipsclosetoherearandrepeatedhisremark.The listenerremainedperfectlymute. "Youcouldmakemyfortunewithoutitscostingyouanything,"pleadedtheyoungman "onlytellmethethreecardswhicharesuretowin,and" Hermanpausedastheoldwomanopenedherlipsasifabouttospeak. "ItwasonlyajestIsweartoyou,itwasonlyajest,"camefromthewitheredlips. "Therewasnojestingaboutit.RememberTchaplitzky,who,thankstoyou,wasableto payhisdebts." Anexpressionofinterioragitationpassedoverthefaceoftheoldwomanthenshe relapsedintoherformerapathy. "Willyoutellmethenamesofthemagiccards,ornot?"askedHermanafterapause. Therewasnoreply. Theyoungmanthendrewapistolfromhispocket,exclaiming:"Youoldwitch,I'llforce youtotellme!" AtthesightoftheweapontheCountessgaveasecondsignoflife.Shethrewbackher headandputoutherhandsasiftoprotectherselfthentheydroppedandshesat motionless. Hermangraspedherarmroughly,andwasabouttorenewhisthreats,whenhesawthat shewasdead! ________________________________

Seatedinherroom,stillinherballdress,Lisavetagaveherselfuptoherreflections.She hadexpectedtofindtheyoungofficerthere,butshefeltrelievedtoseethathewasnot. Strangelyenough,thatverynightattheball,Tomskyhadralliedheraboutherpreference fortheyoungofficer,assuringherthatheknewmorethanshesupposedhedid. "Ofwhomareyouspeaking?"shehadaskedinalarm,fearingheradventurehadbeen discovered. "Oftheremarkableman,"wasthereply."HisnameisHerman." Lisamadenoreply.

"ThisHerman,"continuedTomsky,"isaromanticcharacterhehastheprofileofa NapoleonandtheheartofaMephistopheles.Itissaidhehasatleastthreecrimesonhis conscience.Buthowpaleyouare." "Itisonlyaslightheadache.ButwhydoyoutalktomeofthisHerman?" "BecauseIbelievehehasseriousintentionsconcerningyou." "Wherehasheseenme?" "Atchurch,perhaps,oronthestreet." Theconversationwasinterruptedatthispoint,tothegreatregretoftheyounggirl.The wordsofTomskymadeadeepimpressionuponher,andsherealizedhowimprudently shehadacted.Shewasthinkingofallthisandagreatdealmorewhenthedoor ofher apartmentsuddenlyopened,andHermanstoodbeforeher.Shedrewbackatsightofhim, tremblingviolently. "Wherehaveyoubeen?"sheaskedinafrightenedwhisper. "InthebedchamberoftheCountess.Sheisdead,"wasthecalmreply. "MyGod!Whatareyousaying?"criedthegirl. "Furthermore,IbelievethatIwasthecauseofherdeath." ThewordsofTomskyflashedthroughLisa'smind. Hermansatdownandtoldherall.Shelistenedwithafeelingofterroranddisgust.So thosepassionateletters,thataudaciouspursuitwerenottheresultoftendernessandlove. Itwasmoneythathedesired.Thepoorgirlfeltthatshehadinasensebeenan accompliceinthedeathofherbenefactress.Shebegantoweepbitterly.Hermanregarded herinsilence. "Youareamonster!"exclaimedLisa,dryinghereyes. "Ididn'tintendtokillherthepistolwasnotevenloaded. "Howareyougoingtogetoutofthehouse?"inquiredLisa."Itisnearlydaylight.I intendedtoshowyouthewaytoasecretstaircase,whiletheCountesswasasleep,aswe wouldhavetocrossherchamber.NowIamafraidtodoso." "Directme,andIwillfindthewayalone,"repliedHerman.

Shegavehimminuteinstructionsandakeywithwhichtoopenthestreetdoor.The youngman pressedthecold,inerthand,thenwentout. ThedeathoftheCountesshadsurprisednoone,asithadlongbeenexpected.Herfuneral wasattendedbyeveryoneofnoteinthevicinity.Hermanmingledwiththethrong withoutattractinganyespecialattention.Afterallthefriendshadtakentheirlastlookat thedeadface,theyoungmanapproachedthebier.Heprostratedhimselfonthecold floor,andremainedmotionlessforalongtime.Heroseatlastwithafacealmostaspale asthatofthecorpseitself,andwentupthestepstolookintothecasket.Ashelooked downitseemedtohimthattherigidfacereturnedhisglancemockingly,closingoneeye. Heturnedabruptlyaway,madeafalsestep,andfelltothefloor.Hewaspickedup,and, atthesamemoment,Lisavetawascarriedoutinafaint.

Hermandidnotrecoverhisusualcomposureduringtheentireday.Hedinedaloneatan outofthewayrestaurant,anddrankagreatdeal,inthehopeofstiflinghisemotion.The wineonlyservedtostimulatehisimagination.Hereturnedhomeandthrewhimselfdown onhisbedwithoutundressing. Duringthenightheawokewithastartthemoonshoneintohischamber,making everythingplainlyvisible.Someonelookedinatthewindow,thenquicklydisappeared. Hepaidnoattentiontothis,butsoonheheardthevestibuledooropen.Hethoughtitwas hisorderly,returninglate,drunkasusual.Thestepwasanunfamiliarone,andheheard theshufflingsoundoflooseslippers. Thedoorofhisroomopened,andawomaninwhiteentered.Shecameclosetothebed, andtheterrifiedmanrecognizedtheCountess. "Ihavecometoyouagainstmywill,"shesaidabruptly"butIwascommandedtogrant yourrequest.Thetray,seven,andaceinsuccessionarethemagiccards.Twentyfour hoursmustelapsebetweentheuseofeachcard,andafterthethreehavebeenusedyou mustneverplayagain." Thefantomthenturnedandwalkedaway.Hermanheardtheoutsidedoorclose,and againsawtheformpassthewindow. Heroseandwentoutintothehall,wherehisorderlylayasleeponthefloor.Thedoor wasclosed.Findingnotraceofavisitor,hereturnedtohisroom,lithiscandle,andwrote downwhathehadjustheard. Twofixedideascannotexistinthebrainatthesametimeanymorethantwobodiescan occupythesamepointinspace.Thetray,seven,andacesoonchasedawaythethoughts ofthedeadwoman,andallotherthoughtsfromthebrainoftheyoungofficer.Allhis ideasmergedintoasingleone:howtoturntoadvantagethesecretpaidforsodearly.He eventhoughtofresigninghiscommissionandgoingtoParistoforceafortunefrom conqueredfate.Chancerescuedhimfromhisembarrassment.

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Tchekalinsky,amanwhohadpassedhiswholelifeatcards,openedaclubatSt. Petersburg.Hislongexperiencesecuredforhimtheconfidenceofhiscompanions,and hishospitalityandgenialhumorconciliatedsociety. Thegildedyouthflockedaroundhim,neglectingsociety,preferringthecharmsoffaroto thoseoftheirsweethearts.NaroumovinvitedHermantoaccompanyhimtotheclub,and theyoungmanacceptedtheinvitationonlytoowillingly. Thetwoofficersfoundtheapartmentsfull.Generalsandstatesmenplayedwhistyoung menloungedonsofas,eatingicesorsmoking.Intheprincipalsalonstoodalongtable,at whichabouttwentymensatplayingfaro,thehostoftheestablishmentbeingthebanker. Hewasamanofaboutsixty,grayhairedandrespectable.Hisruddyfaceshonewith genialhumorhiseyessparkledandaconstantsmilehoveredaroundhislips. NaroumovpresentedHerman.Thehostgavehimacordialhandshake,beggedhimnotto standuponceremony,andreturned,tohisdealing.Morethanthirtycardswerealready onthetable.Tchekalinskypausedaftereachcoup,toallowthepunterstimetorecognize theirgainsorlosses,politelyansweringallquestionsandconstantlysmiling. Afterthedealwasover,thecardswereshuffledandthegamebeganagain. "Permitmetochooseacard,"saidHerman,stretchingouthishandovertheheadofa portlygentleman,toreachalivret.Thebankerbowedwithoutreplying. Hermanchoseacard,andwrotetheamountofhisstakeuponitwithapieceofchalk. "Howmuchisthat?"askedthebanker"excuseme,sir,butIdonotseewell." "Fortythousandrubles,"saidHermancoolly. Alleyeswereinstantlyturneduponthespeaker. "Hehaslosthiswits,"thoughtNaroumov. "Allowmetoobserve,"saidTchekalinsky,withhiseternalsmile,"thatyourstakeis excessive." "Whatofit?"repliedHerman,nettled."Doyouacceptitornot?"

Thebankernoddedinassent."Ihaveonlytoremindyouthatthecashwillbenecessary ofcourseyourwordisgood,butinordertokeeptheconfidenceofmypatrons,Iprefer thereadymoney." Hermantookabankcheckfromhispocketandhandedittohishost.Thelatterexamined itattentively,thenlaiditonthecardchosen. Hebegandealing:totheright,aninetotheleft,atray. "Thetraywins,"saidHerman,showingthecardheheldatray. Amurmurranthroughthecrowd.Tchekalinskyfrownedforasecondonly,thenhissmile returned.Hetookarollofbankbillsfromhispocketandcountedouttherequiredsum. Hermanreceiveditandatonceleftthetable. Thenexteveningsawhimattheplaceagain.Everyoneeyedhimcuriously,and Tchekalinskygreetedhimcordially. Heselectedhiscardandplaceduponithisfreshstake.Thebankerbegandealing:tothe right,aninetotheleft,aseven. Hermanthenshowedhiscardasevenspot.Theonlookersexclaimed,andthehostwas visiblydisturbed.Hecountedoutninetyfourthousandrublesandpassedthemto Herman,whoacceptedthemwithoutshowingtheleastsurprise,andatoncewithdrew. Thefollowingeveninghewentagain.Hisappearancewasthesignalforthecessationof alloccupation,everyonebeingeagertowatchthedevelopmentsofevents.Heselected hiscardanace. Thedealingbegan:totheright,aqueentotheleft,anace. "Theacewins,"remarkedHerman,turninguphiscardwithoutglancingatit. "Yourqueeniskilled,"remarkedTchekalinskyquietly. Hermantrembledlookingdown,hesaw,nottheacehehadselected,butthequeenof spades.Hecouldscarcelybelievehiseyes.Itseemedimpossiblethathecouldhavemade suchamistake.Ashestaredatthecarditseemedtohimthatthequeenwinkedoneeyeat himmockingly. "Theoldwoman!"heexclaimedinvoluntarily. Thecroupierrakedinthemoneywhilehelookedoninstupidterror.Whenheleftthe table,allmadewayforhimtopassthecardswereshuffled,andthegamblingwenton.

Hermanbecamealunatic.HewasconfinedatthehospitalatOboukov,wherehespoketo noone,butkeptconstantlymurmuringinamonotonoustone:"Thetray,seven,ace!The tray,seven,queen!"

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