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Two years previous to those events a strong and handsome young girl
of an eastern type, Katia Turchaninova, came from the Don military
settlements to St. Petersburg to study in the university college for
women. In that town she met a student, Turin, the son of a district
governor in the Simbirsk province, and fell in love with him. But her
love was not of the ordinary type, and she had no desire to become his
wife and the mother of his children. He was a dear comrade to her, and
their chief bond of union was a feeling of revolt they had in common,
as well as the hatred they bore, not only to the existing forms of
government, but to all those who represented that government. They
had also in common the sense that they both excelled their enemies
in culture, in brains, as well as in morals. Katia Turchaninova was a
gifted girl, possessed of a good memory, by means of which she
easily mastered the lectures she attended. She was successful in her
examinations, and, apart from that, read all the newest books. She was
certain that her vocation was not to bear and rear children, and even
looked on such a task with disgust and contempt. She thought herself
chosen by destiny to destroy the present government, which was fettering
the best abilities of the nation, and to reveal to the people a higher
standard of life, inculcated by the latest writers of other countries.
She was handsome, a little inclined to stoutness: she had a good
complexion, shining black eyes, abundant black hair. She inspired the
men she knew with feelings she neither wished nor had time to share,
busy as she was with propaganda work, which consisted chiefly in mere
talking. She was not displeased, however, to inspire these feelings;
and, without dressing too smartly, did not neglect her appearance. She
liked to be admired, as it gave her opportunities of showing how little
she prized what was valued so highly by other women.
In her views concerning the method of fighting the government she went
further than the majority of her comrades, and than her friend Turin;
all means, she taught, were justified in such a struggle, not excluding
murder. And yet, with all her revolutionary ideas, Katia Turchaninova
was in her soul a very kind girl, ready to sacrifice herself for the
welfare and the happiness of other people, and sincerely pleased when
she could do a kindness to anybody, a child, an old person, or an
She went in the summer to stay with a friend, a schoolmistress in
a small town on the river Volga. Turin lived near that town, on his
father's estate. He often came to see the two girls; they gave each
other books to read, and had long discussions, expressing their common
indignation with the state of affairs in the country. The district
doctor, a friend of theirs, used also to join them on many occasions.
The estate of the Turins was situated in the neighbourhood of the
Liventsov estate, the one that was entrusted to the management of Peter
Nikolaevich Sventizky. Soon after Peter Nikolaevich had settled there,
and begun to enforce order, young Turin, having observed an independent
tendency in the peasants on the Liventsov estate, as well as their
determination to uphold their rights, became interested in them. He came
often to the village to talk with the men, and developed his socialistic
theories, insisting particularly on the nationalisation of the land.
After Peter Nikolaevich had been murdered, and the murderers sent
to trial, the revolutionary group of the small town boiled over with
indignation, and did not shrink from openly expressing it. The fact
of Turin's visits to the village and his propaganda work among the
students, became known to the authorities during the trial. A search was
made in his house; and, as the police found a few revolutionary leaflets
among his effects, he was arrested and transferred to prison in St.
Katia Turchaninova followed him to the metropolis, and went to visit
him in prison. She was not admitted on the day she came, and was told to
come on the day fixed by regulations for visits to the prisoners. When
that day arrived, and she was finally allowed to see him, she had
to talk to him through two gratings separating the prisoner from his
visitor. This visit increased her indignation against the authorities.
And her feelings become all the more revolutionary after a visit she
paid to the office of a gendarme officer who had to deal with the Turin
case. The officer, a handsome man, seemed obviously disposed to grant
her exceptional favours in visiting the prisoner, if she would allow him
to make love to her. Disgusted with him, she appealed to the chief of
police. He pretended--just as the officer did when talking officially
to her--to be powerless himself, and to depend entirely on orders coming
from the minister of state. She sent a petition to the minister asking
for an interview, which was refused.
Then she resolved to do a desperate thing and bought a revolver.
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